life update + fennel-strawberry simple syrup & other recipes

life update + fennel-strawberry simple syrup & other recipes Jump to Recipe

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.

LOOSE RECIPE: Young salad greens, sliced sugar snap peas, toasted pine nuts, and a generous amount of sugar snap blossoms (which taste just like peas!) & other edible flowers. Not pictured is the scattering of feta I added to it right before serving, along with a lemony-dill dressing.

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!

fennel-strawberry simple syrup

for mocktails and cocktails!
Course Drinks
Servings 1 1/4 cup

Ingredients
  

  • 1 med fennel chopped
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds if you want a stronger fennel flavor
  • 8 strawberries sliced
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 c water
  • 1/2 tsp orange blossom water or more to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Instructions
 

  • Add all ingredients into a sauce pan and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and keep refrigerated til ready to use.
Keyword Cocktails, Fennel, Mocktails, Orange Blossom, Seasonal, Simple Syrup, Strawberries
Little mocktail action using the simple syrup! Basically a mojito.

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.

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 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
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!

casarecce and mini meatballs in roasted cherry tomato sauce

So I *think* this beautiful meal was meant to serve at least six people, but, friends? Three made it disappear. WE NEEDED THE LOVE. I’m thinking you might need some, too. How are you?

I’ve always swooned over a roasted cherry tomato sauce for my pasta…and now having small meatballs coated in that sweet, sweet sauce kinda took me the hell over the edge. Let’s do this.

Preheat oven to 400

for the meatballs

-1 lb ground beef
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-1/4 cup breadcrumbs
-1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
-1/2 tsp oregano (fresh or dried, or any other herb you like)
-1 egg
-salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together, but be careful not to over mix. With wet hands, form mini meatballs and shallow fry them. You’ll want to brown them but not overcook them. Set aside til sauce is ready.

for the sauce

-glug of olive oil
-2 sprigs of oregano or rosemary or bay leaves
-few garlic cloves, sliced
-14 oz fresh cherry tomatoes, colorful variety if available
-14 oz can cherry tomatoes with juice (mutti) OR just double up on fresh cherry tomatoes
-1/2 pound pasta/8 oz, cooked separately in salted water
-1/2 cup grated parm

In a roasting pan, toss cherry tomatoes, garlic, and sprigs in a generous amount of olive. Season with a little salt and red pepper. Roast til bursting, about 35-40 minutes.

Mash them.

Add your meatballs and stir til well coated with the sauce, then bake in the oven another 15 minutes. Toss in the pasta and add plenty of parmesan.

And by all means, be comforted by 1-4 bowls of this.

Savoury Indian Dutch Baby

Savoury Indian Dutch Baby

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.

heirloom tomatoes with fried caper dressing

heirloom tomatoes with fried caper dressing

If anything can make me feel better after a couple of weeks of emergency after emergency, it would be the sight of tomatoes. That, to me, is summer dressed in it’s finery.

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Being absent from the greenmarket was FELT. A single step outside of Union Square train station and I was already overwhelmed with the beauty of it all. At least 8 farmstands showcased my loves. I saw super tiny yellow ones called currant tomatoes and I almost lost my mind. And all my money.

I came home with yellow and blushing heirlooms and I wanted to have them simply. I would’ve just took a bite out of one if I was not sharing with a few others (that’s how simply I wanted to have them). But I aim to share.

The dressing is an infused olive oil with fresh orange, herbs, garlic, and capers that become so crispy you could snack on them alone.

If you can do without the fresh orange juice, add a bit of white balsamic instead. Be sure to give the capers a good rinse, to dull down the salt, then lay them out on a paper towel to dry before frying them. You might have some infused oil left over, which isn’t a bad thing. Save it for something else. As for the tomatoes, they’ll be gone by the end of the meal (or before).

Heirloom Tomatoes with Fried Caper Dressing – Serves 4

-2 tbs capers, rinsed
-1/4 cup good quality olive oil
-3 long strips of orange zest
-2 leafy sprigs of oregano or thyme (or 4 if small/thin)
-1 garlic clove, smashed
-couple of fresh squeezes of an orange
-3-4 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
-feta, fresh herbs, optional for serving

Heat a small pan and pour in your olive oil. When ready, add your capers, herbs, and garlic. Saute for about a minute before adding your orange zest. Here’s an in-action shot:

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Fry til the capers begin to burst (this happens quickly so keen an eye out). Take off heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the capers to a bowl or plate lined with a paper towel. In another bowl, pour in the infused olive oil. When cool, add a couple of squeezes of orange juice or white balsamic. You can dress the tomatoes ahead of time but save the capers for when everyone’s ready to dig in.

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I haven’t had the nerve to slice the heart-shaped tomato yet. I’ve 3 heirlooms left and I might just dress them in the leftover infused oil, or take that selfish bite.

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