"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.
My home-alone cooking is looking a lot like the postpartum-cooking I’ll be doing for my beautiful friend–and it’s fuckin’ delicious. If I wanna be Jamie Oliver (I don’t, really) I’d call this a two-ingredient recipe (eggplant & red lentils) with some layering of flavors–but I’m not here for the eye-rolls.
Curry-roasted eggplant gets simmered in a pot of spiced red lentils with coconut milk and beef bone broth. There’s a slight tang from the dried black lime but you can create that same tang by using fresh lime or lemon juice towards the end, or even a bit of zest in the beginning. I used galangal here because I had plenty from an Asian market and I do enjoy it’s sweet, floral heat. Ginger is obviously perfect to use here instead. Sofrito is absolutely NOT traditionally used in any dal, but I had it and the onion/garlic/pepper/cilantro ingredients work very well so, why not? Dal is meant to be thick but if you’re looking for a soup-like consistency, just add more broth or water. Serve with rice or enjoy on it’s own. Love y’all!
4-5small Indian eggplantsor 1 larger variety, cubed
olive oilfor coating
curry powderto taste
for the lentils/coconut dal
1/2tspdried black limeor lime juice towards end, to taste
1-2dried red chiles
1inch knobgalangal or gingerfinely chopped
1/2 tbspsofritorecipe linked above
14ozcan full-fat coconut milk
2cupsbeef bone brothplus more for desired consistency
celery leaves or cilantrofor serving
for the eggplant
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roast the eggplant til golden brown and tender. Set aside.
for the coconut dal
Heat ghee and add spices. Stir in sofrito, galangal, and tomato paste and saute for a minute or so before adding the coconut milk, stock, and lentils. Simmer for 15 minutes then add in the roasted eggplant. Simmer another 15 minutes, adding more stock or water to reach desired consistency.
This is just a touch of my spring into summer, with some lines repeated from an IG post because the words don’t need editing–they perfectly describe that feeling that’s been lived in. Little recipes will naturally fall into the spaces btwn these words or in the photo captions, all of them simple.
I’ve been quiet, I know. Late May, after 8 busy months, I lost my full-time agency job and a day after that, I found out that my dad’s been diagnosed with Acute Leukemia (meaning, aggressive) and things have been strange and wild since then–but I am somehow manifesting very beautiful days for myself and I have very good friends to thank for that. One night I’m in Jenika’s kitchen eating shrimp dumplings she made from scratch, trying different sauces I know I needed to stock up on, other days I’m with Mary and Sussie and sweet 7-yr-old Sebastian swooning over plates of seasonal eats and drinks (one of which inspired the simple syrup I’ll be sharing with y’all.) And longer, pace-yourself-days spent with Christina and Jordan who I’m so happy to have (re)connected with. I feel myself safely stepping into my Queerness and it’s the most precious thing, something I felt I couldn’t do having always ended up with cishet men.
We eat and talk shit like we used to in our Hunter College days, but at a different stage in our lives when the only thing that really matters is the company you keep and the food before you that feels like ceremony. Bowls of fruit, young greens, flowers that taste, well, floral..and flowers that taste like straight-up sugar snap peas. It isn’t a heartbreak that drives the conversation along..what moves it along are the most peaceful things btwn our cussing over my latest hurt: hands quietly passing a jar of pomegranate and guava jam over to the next, Jordan tasting their first lychee, revealing the hidden nut inside (the tiny eggplant, says Joe) with such delight, you’re reminded that these are the moments you should linger on. Christina’s hand on their belly, a baby inside.
I don’t care if I’m stopping by for a few hrs, staying overnight, or if we’re going away on a little trip together…I will forever be *that* baddie that packs all sorts of food things for my ppl. For a recent beach getaway, I specifically made a fennel-strawberry simple syrup for mocktails and cocktails, inspired by a fennel margarita I became obsessed with at abc cocina (thank you Mary and Sussie!). Y’all, I don’t even like fennel like THAT, but this was tongue-magic. When I tasted my own I felt it wasn’t fennel-y enough. The fennel itself was very mild in flavor so I think adding some fennel seeds will do the trick if you also end up with a mild one. Recipe below!
My main focus this summer is NOT to stress myself tf out because the stress will come naturally from the going-ons with dad. I’m going to be super careful who I give my time and energy to. And I’m going to brainstorm ways to create a cash flow that feels real good to me. Yes, I’ll have my own clients again to do my food photography for, but I also want to start doing seasonal dinner pop-ups, submit to food AND poetry magazines again, maybe even get deeply involved in postpartum recipe development (which will happen naturally because I plan on cooking for Christina with utmost intention) and, fuck, I can do a wholeeeee thing with that, too, because it feels so nurturing and loving and I know others have built businesses based on that alone. But mostly, and most importantly, I just want to be me unapologetically, eating beautiful food with beautiful ppl, romancing friends, romancing me. Let’s keep in touch.
I’m a teeny bit late, but I’ve some good news to share with you which will totally explain my lack of updating the blog. A few months ago I became a full-time VaynerMedia content creator and my first client (hi Wegmans!) has me workin’ my tuchus off. Which I’m lovin’! but I don’t have much time to work on my own recipe developing at the moment. Whatever recipe I shoot for them I end up feeding the family with (which is a win), and it was only a couple of weeks ago that I started to have a day or two to myself to throw things in a pot and have the pot do all the work while I used that time editing content. This Cholent is one of them.
Reminiscent of our stewed pot of beans which simmers in a tomato broth with flavors of sofrito and sazón, let’s call this the much heartier, Jewish version. Packed with barley, bone-in meat, and vegetables, one bowl of this will probably keep you satisfied for the day–which is the intent. Cholent was created because Jewish law prohibited cooking on Shabbat. But this recipe doesn’t take as long as a traditional cholent which is cooked on low over night for 10-12 hours. If Jake Cohen can cut time short (a little too short in my opinion) on his cholent, so can I. I’m not big on leaving my stove on unattended in an ancient Manhattan building. (But if you don’t soak the beans and add more than this recipe calls for, then yes, cook longer if need be!)
1cupdried navy/cranberry/pinto beanssoaked over night
2lbflanken or other meat of choicebone-in preferred
1.5 tbsporganic sazón
2medyukon or red potatoesquartered
1yucca(or another potato)
3sprigsthyme or oregano
8cupsbeef brothplus water if needed
salt and pepperto taste
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Sear flanken in batches. Return to pot and add tomato paste, sofrito, and sazón. Saute a couple of minutes, until paste has caramelized a bit and the flanken is wonderfully scented.
Add in the beef stock, scraping up the brown bits. Stir in the beans, potatoes, herbs, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, skimming the foam that rises to the top for the first 10 minutes. Cover with a lid and place it in the oven for 5 hours, checking occasionally to see if it needs to be skimmed or if it needs more liquid.
After the 4th hour, add in the barley, yucca, and pumpkin and return to the oven again for another hour or more. Add more liquid for desired consistency.
Sazón is a Latin spice blend that contains cumin, coriander, garlic, oregano, and achiote (which gives it that beautiful orange color). Some blends contain salt while others do not. Take this into consideration when you season this cholent. I prefer to not use Goya, but do you.
Keyword Barley, Beans, Dutch Oven, One Pot Meal, Slow Cooking, Sofrito
For Rosh Hashanah I had collaborated with 90+ Cellars (my favorite wine brand!) to bring you this recipe of Malbec-braised Short Ribs with Dried Figs and Apricots. This dish is rich with a tangy sweetness reminiscent of Syrian stuffed grape leaves, all thanks to the addition of tamarind and fruit. Their Old Vine Malbec takes the flavor (and COLOR!) of this Aleppian stew to another level. Choosing quality wine that is ruby-purple with hints of wood smoke, berries, and spice is my dutch oven’s best friend. 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 mashed potatoes.
Wine-Braised Short Ribs with Dried Figs and Apricots
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over med-high heat and brown the short ribs in 2 batches, being sure to season them with a little salt on all sides. Set aside.
Add your carrots, garlic, and onion (if using) and stir the tomato paste into a pool of oil left in the pot, being sure to caramelize it for about a minute before stirring ingredients together. Add all spices, herbs, 3 tbs of tamarind, and combine. After about 30 seconds, add your short ribs and it’s accumulated juices back into the pot, then pour your malbec wine over them. Allow it to simmer for 15-20 minutes until wine reduces by half. Add in water or broth 1 cup at a time, until short ribs are covered over by ½ an inch.
Stir in your dried figs and apricots. Cover dutch oven and place it in the oven for 2 hours. Taste the sauce at this time. If it’s not sweet-tangy enough for you, add another tbs of tamarind. Different brands of tamarind are sweeter/tarter than others, so you have to go by taste.
Put it back in the oven until fork-tender, another 30 minutes to an hour. The meat should be sticky with all that sweet and tangy goodness.
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.
for small batch roasted tomato jam (makes 2/3 cup)
1 lbin-season cherry tomatoesand/or other variety, halved if big
drizzle of olive oil
couple of pinches of salt
Aleppo pepperto taste
2sprigsthyme and/or rosemary
1/4cupbrown sugarlightly packed
2tbspfresh lemon juice
roasted tomato jam
1eggfor egg wash
1 1/2 tbsppolentafor sprinkling over cookies (optional)
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.
September is for mourning the end of tomato season (ANY DAY NOW, Y’ALL), begrudgingly welcoming all them fancy (and seemingly endless) gourds, and planning for Rosh Hashanah. I find myself torn between these matzah balls, where sugary brown bits of cabbage get added in, or my festive Puerto Rican recipe for sancocho matzo ball soup. I suppose it depends how many people I’m feeding this year. This one might make my life a bit easier (less costly, too!)
This was originally shared on The Nosher last Passover, with the recipe for my chicken soup included should you need to check that out as well. Now I get to share it here right in time for the holidays and cooler days. Ladle these darlings into any brothy soup you might be making soon.
In a small pan under low heat, melt your schmaltz then add the chopped cabbage. Stir every 8-10 minutes (be careful to not interrupt the browning process by moving the cabbage around a lot) until the mix turns a deep brown, about 45 minutes. While you begin with 3 tbsp schmaltz, it reduces to about 1 ½ tbsp. Set aside.
for the matzah balls
In a medium bowl, beat your egg yolks, grated onion, cabbage with schmaltz, broth, herbs and salt together. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites and matzo meal til fully incorporated. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.
Bring a large pot of water to boil, stir in 1 teaspoon of salt.
With wet hands, form walnut-sized balls and drop them into the pot. Cover and boil for about 50 minutes.
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.
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.
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.
When Sophia Roe shared her tomato and currant salad the other day, it reminded me how much I love the combination of both on a plate. It is pure magic in looks and taste. It is currently the season for BOTH in NYC so you need to get to your local farmers market and grab ’em! I used a variety of tomatoes here, one large Cherokee heirloom and a pint of cherry tomatoes. Blackberries made this extra special and yes, they are also in season. Please use your best quality olive oil for this beauty! All it really needs is a couple pinches of flaky salt but I did add some ground galangal for floral heat. If you spot any fresh, grate a tiny bit! It’s a beautiful ginger-looking ingredient that I even slip into fruit pies when no one is looking.
I dragged my butt out of the house in this heat for some market therapy, and I recommend you do the same. Look at my tiny haul! Currants are tiny and mighty and I am obsessed with them. A little sweet with a citrusy tart bite.
Most of it went into this salad. And the juices that were created from the salad? Yeahhhh…I turned ’em into a cocktail. Recipe for both below!
Add all ingredients together, gently mix. Allow it to sit for 30-60 minutes before serving, so that the flavor develops! The juices from this salad is perfection. Serve with bread, or use the juices for a cocktail like I did!
Keyword Currants, In Season, Quick, Seasonal, Simple, Summer, Tomatoes
Because I didn’t have any bread to sop up the juices, and the juices were out of this world, I decided to reserve it for a cocktail. I’m going to ask my Instagram audience to help me name this cocktail, but for now, here’s the recipe. It has 3 ounces “leftover salad” juice, 2 ounces vodka, and about 5 ounces of sparkling grapefruit mixer. Ginger ale might do well, too. I used what I had, and it worked!
This is the sort of sourdough I’d gladly gift to a loved one. Easter is right around the corner, y’all. And if you’re the type, like I’m the type, to want to gift something edible for the winter holidays, then this is absolute perfection. A bread that’s studded with melted dark chocolate chunks, golden hazelnuts, and boozy wild blueberries.
Of course you can play around with the ingredients here. Instead of hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios, even walnuts will do just fine. And if you can’t find any dried wild blueberries, figs are perfect here. No alcohol? No problem. Soak in water or juice.
This is a dessert bread that I love to spread salted butter on, along with jams. Enjoy with a cup of coffee, tea, or with something a little stronger.
In a small bowl, combine wild blueberries, liquor, and zest. Allow it to sit, covered, for at least 4 hours. Overnight is best.
for the sourdough
In a medium bowl whisk together both flours and cocoa powder til combined.
In a large bowl filled with tepid water, plop into it your activated starter and whisk til frothy. Fold in the flours til a rough mixture is formed. Cover and allow it to autolyse for 1 hour. The dough will come together during this time.
Next you will be incorporating the salt, hazelnuts, drained wild blueberries, and chocolate between several folds. For the first fold, sprinkle a little bit of everything over the surface of the dough and with wet hands, pat where these ingredients are. You will now stretch and fold the dough in its bowl. Pinch one side of the dough and stretch it upwards without creating any rips or tears, then fold it over itself. Rotate the bowl at a 90 degree angle and continue stretching and folding til you no longer see the first round of add-ins. Cover and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. You will do the above steps 2-3 more times til all add-ins are incorporated fully, allowing for a 30 minute rest in between each.
Line a round proofing basket with parchment paper, allowing room for overhang, and sprinkle it with flour or polenta.
Now you will shape the dough. Flatten it into a rough rectangle on a lightly floured surfaced, and lift the bottom of the dough towards the center. Move your hands a little further up the rectangle and grasp both edges, pulling both sides to the center. Do this a couple of more times, each time going further up the dough. Now roll it and flip it seam-side down into the proofing basket. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge overnight.
Take the dough out 1-1.5 hours before you're ready to bake it. It must come to room temp. Pluck off any berries you see showing, as they don't taste good burned.
Place your dutch oven in a cold oven and preheat to 500. This should take 20 minutes. Score the bread and pull it out by the hanging parchment sides, and carefully plop it into the very hot dutch oven. Place the lid on and bake for 20 minutes. Then lower the temp to 425 degrees and bake another 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and allow it to cool completely before slicing.
There are other ways to incorporate the add-ins, but between folds is always how I’ve made my sourdough. If you find another way easier where you do it all at once, go for it!
I am excited to announce that The Nosher and Jewish Telegraphic Agency have recently included my recipes for Caramelized Cabbage Matzah Ball Soup and Keftes in their ebook: 15 Recipes For a Modern Passover. Please do check it out! Other recipes included are absolutely beautiful.
When Janna Gur first shared Hadassah Kavel’s recipe for Matzo Balls in her Jewish Soul Food cookbook, I knew adding caramelized onion to my own recipe was just the thing that was missing. That is, until I became cabbage-obsessed a few years ago. While I know we have entered a new year, I’d like to think cabbage is still trending. I would recommend adding these to any of your favorite broths or soups for your upcoming holiday table, but I have included a basic chicken soup recipe as well.
I crave savory pies more than fruit-filled. There, I said it. And since it’s winter and my landlord doesn’t like to warm up the house the legal way, I find many excuses to turn on our oven. Our salads have even been the roasted sort topped with fresh cucumber – an Ottolenghi recipe that somehow manifested into a pie in my kitchen, using whatever I have.
You’ll want to choose tender-when-cooked vegetables for this one. Here we have eggplant, zucchini, red bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes. While these aren’t in season right now in NY, roasting them this way in colder months brings out better flavor. I order from a farm-to-home delivery service to ensure my veggies are on point, but if you prefer waiting til Summer arrives, save this delicious idea for later!
smashed vegetable pie with cheddar crust and cucumber salad
In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt. Toss the chilled pieces of butter into the flour til well coated. With your fingers, begin to break the butter into smaller pieces til they become pea-sized. Toss the grated cheese into the flour, then incorporate the ice water. Fold the dough into itself a few times til a ball forms. Flatten it into a disc and wrap with plastic wrap. Leave it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days.
for the vegetables and pie assembly
Preheat oven to 425.
Place all diced vegetables onto a large sheet pan layered with parchment paper. Add a generous amount of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss til combined. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, stirring once mid-way.
Discard the thyme. Gently smash about half of the vegetables with a fork, leaving some of the cherry tomatoes whole. Allow it to cool down before filling your pie crust.
When ready, roll out the dough and place it over a deep pie dish. Fill it with the roasted vegetables. Fold in the edges and crimp the way you prefer. Brush with a little egg wash and bake for 40-45 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the cucumber salad and spoon it over the pie once it has cooled down (or serve on the side while the pie is warm.) Enjoy!
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.