Tag Archives: lemon

the whole shebang: 6300 miles and a whole (lazy) lemon tart, iphone edition

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My past 28 days have looked something like this:

Santa Barbara, CA –> Baltimore, MD –> Wilton, CT –> Lake Joseph, Ontario (Canada) –> New York City, NY –> Baltimore, MD –> Santa Barbara, CA.

We’ve just arrived back home (we being the husband, the pug, and myself, and home being to the farm) after a whirlwind East-Coast-meets-Canada Summer tour that was packed sardine-tin style with cross country flights and long long drives: a marvelous wedding weekend in a picturesque New England town, two weeks spent on an island in the middle of a giant lake in Canada, and a full week back in The City – my old love – New York, New York.

(An aside: Given that these three locales and disparate occasions demanded quite different attire, you can surely ascertain exactly how nonplussed the look on James’ face was when he saw me attempting to heave two full-sized and at-limit suitcases onto the belt in addition to the tote bags/handbags/saddlebags that I looped over his shoulders like my own personal travel burro. Efficient packer, I am not.)

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Having – quite surprisingly – not traversed outside of the Pacific time zone since our arrival on the farm last Winter, we had a veritable laundry list of friends to see, places to visit, and cakes to bake (that’s a normal thing, right?), and in what seems like a relatively long stretch of time (nearly a month), we somehow managed to cram smoosh and shove nearly every single person/activity/baked good in without incident.

The trip was kicked off with our dear friends’ wedding, and we danced under the stars on a horse farm while munching on mini tacos and Polly Pocket sized margaritas housed in tiny Patron bottles. After a weekend full of feting, the car was loaded and aimed North towards the border, and we scanned the crackly FM stations while cruising through upstate New York searching for just the right songs to befit the lush rolling hillsides and endless decorously unkempt farms. A full days drive warranted cooling our jets for an evening at a darling bed and breakfast in Ithaca, and in the most touristy fashion possible we unabashedly chowed down on Buffalo wings at the restaurant that lays claim to starting that whole vinegar-spiked-hot-wing craze.

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We drove into Canada and left the US behind for two glorious weeks; this was the fourth year I have accompanied James and his parents for a mid-Summer break at their lake house, and it has quickly become a yearly tradition that we eagerly look forward to as the days grow longer and July 4th approaches. The cabin is on an island – the kind where there are no cars and oh, you better choose your company wisely, as there is absolutely nowhere to hide once you arrive by boat. And, as such, there is nothing really pressing on the agenda save long and lazy afternoons filled with sunshine and novels and time spent in the kitchen tinkering with new recipes and keeping the fridge full for those who’ve worked up an appetite swimming laps around the island.

{but wait! there’s more…}

for that marine layer: zucchini, basil, & parmesan soup

zucchini, basil, and parmesan soup - simple and deliciously perfect

These past few weeks, for most of the country, have been HOT. This I know by the plethora of Instagram snaps of car temperature gauges zooming up into the hundred-teens, Facebook postsof popsicles melting something fierce poolside, and conversations with friends detailing massively frizzy hair do’s (don’ts), complaints of back-sticking cab rides endured from downtown-up, and the heavy sighs of electric bills bolstered skyward by the incessant hum of every AC unit in All Of The Land set on turbo.

zucchini and basil soup - ripe whole zucchini

Brutal.

zucchini and basil soup- perfect, ripe, zucchini

But not here. Nope, not in San Francisco. Here, I walked to work this morning in a maxi dress, wearing a cashmere sweater – and a canvas jacket — and a scarf – and was still putting some blustery pep in my step, as my chilly exposed toes were sign enough that low booties would have been a better choice than strappy flats.

a mound of fluffy parmesan cheese ready to melt in the soup

As Mark Twain most famously never said,* and seemingly every person delighted in telling me when I informed them of my decision to relocate to the Bay area, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco” — and, that has proven at least in these past few weeks, to be mostly true.

*Nerd Alert & to set the record straight: There is no evidence that Mark Twain actually said those words; in one letter, he is recorded as expressing similar displeasure with the weather in Paris – not San Francisco.  So there.

sauteeing up chunks of zucchini for zucchini and basil soup

It’s not that it’s actually cold; the mercury steadily reads somewhere in the 50’s at night, and in the low to mid 60’s during the day – a treat, as far as most warm-blooded humans are concerned. It’s just that this time of year, in the height of the Summer months when the majority of the country is seeking respite from the sun, we are endowed with a thick blanket of heavy fog – the “marine layer” – that makes things feel much chiller than they really are.

zucchini and basil soup simmering away...

And so I have soup. Not exactly what conjures visions of a perfect Summertime meal, but I promise you that this soup – a light but intensely flavorful puree of zucchini, basil, and Parmesan cheese with a touch of lemon and hint of garlic – is just the thing to warm your AC-froze bones midday at the office. You turn the oven on exactly zero times, and you can suffer through the painlessly quick preparation virtually sweat free, stocking yourself with a big pot of leftovers that you can heat quickly and goes perfectly alongside a crunchy salad or light sandwich. This soup manages to be intensely creamy without actually using anything of the sort; the silkiness of zucchini simmered in vegetable stock till tender makes a fine (and bikini friendly) swap, and creates a super-charged flavor whose whole totally belies the simplicity of the ingredients.

topped with pea shoots for crunch and freshness

Summer soup – you’ve just got to trust me on this one.  And in other news, I’m well aware that things have been a bit (OK ALOT) quiet around here…I’m working on a new project (unrelated to the blog – or kitchen, even) that’s been sapping up a good bit of my side time, and I’m very sorry I’ve let things here dwindle down to cricket chirps as of late.  (Such bad form!)  I’m excited to share more with you as the weeks go forward, and I pinky-swear I have some yummy things to share with you here on a much more regular schedule.

Onward – and upward!

Zucchini, Parmesan, and Basil Soup
6 servings (makes about 8 cups)

A dollop of cool Greek yogurt would be great on this soup (and add a shot of protein), and though I haven’t expressly tried it this way, I suspect it would also be great served chilled (with my suspicions mostly confirmed after licking a serving spoon when heating up the leftovers….).

1.5 lbs (24 oz) fresh zucchini (about 6 medium), roughly chopped
1 medium sized white onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
4 cups vegetable stock
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
10 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
zest of 1 lemon
olive oil
kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
pea shoots or fresh arugula, for garnish (about 1/4 cup per serving)
a few wispy shreds of Parmesan, to serve (totally optional)

Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat; if you have dutch oven, this is the perfect time to use it. When the pot is hot, add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Add in the onion and a good pinch of salt, and saute, stirring occasionally,, till the onion is just tender and translucent on the edges, about 5 minutes (you do not want it to brown at all, just to cook and soften). Add the chopped zucchini and minced garlic to the pot, and stir; let it cook for 2 minutes, just till the garlic is tender and fragrant and the zucchini appears to wilt and look slightly tired. Add the stock and another good pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper, and raise the heat to high. Let the stock come just to a boil, and then reduce the heat down to medium. Simmer the vegetables for 15 minutes, till the zucchini is fork tender.

When the zucchini is tender, take the soup off of the heat, and set it to the side. Stir in the roughly chopped basil, the parmesan cheese, and the lemon zest. Puree the soup in a blender or food processor, carefully working in batches, until it is completely blended and silky smooth. (You can also puree the soup using an immersion blender – either way works fine.) Taste the soup and adjust salt and pepper levels if necessary.

To serve, ladle the hot soup into a bowl, and top with a small pile of the pea shoots (or fresh arugula). Top with a few additional wisps of Parmesan (if so inclined), and enjoy!

sum of it’s parts: roasted cauliflower with lemon tahini sauce

roasted cauliflower with lemon tahini sauce and sesame seeds - eatandrelish.com

Roasted cauliflower….again?

cauliflower florets chopped up and ready to be roasted

I know. It’s boring, it’s bland, it’s the last man standing on the sad veggie tray in the corner, always.

“Caulifower is my favorite vegetable” said no one, ever.

I know all of this.

tahini

And yet I’m still forcing cauliflower recipes upon you! What can I say….I’m sadistic like that.

black and white sesame seeds, for flavor and color

Truthfully I’ve been making cauliflower a lot around here lately. I’d say it’s in season, but I don’t think it is for most of the country – apparently, in California, everything is in season all the time. (I tell ya – it’s really rough living here.) So I’ve been scooping it on Sundays from the Fort Mason Farmer’s market, and trying to use it’s meatiness in vegetarian dishes that need a little bulking up. I’ve roasted it in thick slices like steak, tossed it with arugula and shaved parmesan, and even dusted it with cumin and tucked it into tiny corn tacos – perhaps my favorite thus far, actually.

lemons from a friend's garden

But after overzealously purchasing three heads last week, I had cauliflower-mental-block. I was perfectly fine slicing up the florets and roasting them (yet again….), but was looking for a simple spin that would fool us into thinking we had something other than roasted cauliflower on the side of our plates. Again.

crispy cauli!

By the power that is Google, a quick search returned a deceptively simple recipe for my same roasted cauliflower equation only doctored up with a quick pan sauce of garlic, tahini, and lemon. I should mention I’ve not only been on a cauli-kick as of late, but am also in the midst of a mean homemade hummus streak (that’s normal, right?), so given the fact I had about a gallon of tahini in the fridge and a sun-ripened lemon freshly picked from a friend’s yard right here in the city, this cauliflower just had to be made.

{but wait! there’s more…}

even better, at home: smashed lemon, rosemary, and garlic potatoes

smashed lemon rosemary and garlic potatoes

One of our favorite places to snag a quick bite in Boulder was a restaurant tucked in on West Pearl called The Kitchen Next Door. Besides having a great assortment of healthy-ish lunch vittles, service there was lightning fast, and you barely had time to take a sip of your frosty Apricot Drydock before plates of delicious food were being whisked over and plunked in front of you.

baby yukon gold potatoes, sliced in half

It was hardly “fast food,” serving all organic produce and meats from Colorado local farms, but it was good food fast – quite the difference, as it is. Though most days I would stick to my guns and get a quinoa salad, bowl of tomato soup, or their fabulous (and on my list to re-create very soon) beet burger, if there was any chink in my lunchtime-willpower at all, a heaping pile of their fabulous garlic smashers would inevitably land at our table.

(Hey! Who ordered these?)

fresh rosemary from the garden

Not that anyone minded.  The garlic smashers were divine – little bits and pieces of potato that were fluffy on the inside and crispy like a french fry on the outside, doused in an herby garlicky sauce, and served with a ramekin of house-made ketchup.  There was absolutely nothing about them that could possibly bring any nutritional value to the table (unless, of course, you count the tomatoes in the ketchup…I’m counting them), but their deep fried loveliness did wonders for a hangover, and without fail there would nary be a single speck left on the plate.

sliced garlic - superthin, on a mandolin

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easy but good: broccoli (they’ll actually want to eat) with chili flake, lemon, and garlic

broccoli they'll actually want to eat, roasted up with garlic, chili, and fresh lemon

When I sheepishly tell someone that I write a blog focused mainly on food and cooking, the inevitable next question is if I blog everything I cook or make to eat.

I think (hope?) you know that the answer is definitely not.

organic broccoli crown

It’s a totally valid question – there are a lot of “food bloggers”* out there who make it their prerogative to document each and every morsel that goes in their mouth – but unfortunately, if you saw a good majority of the things that I call “Dinner” around here, quite frankly, you might never come back again.

*Can we agree that the label ‘food blogger’ makes one sound like the most annoying human being, ever? File it right up there with “Foodie.”

broccoli stems peeled and ready to be cut

I’ve been known to consider a bowl of cinnamon puffins and almond milk a fine supper (with sliced strawberries if I’m feelin’ real fancy), and while James needs decidedly more structure when it comes to the last meal of the day, he never winges or whines when I present him with a bowl of reheated leftovers over toast gussied up with some hot sauce, or even when I freak out over the half-full odds and ends in our refrigerator and/or freezer, and present him with a “tofu-scramble-surprise.”

slivered broccoli stems

I gotta be honest with you though, my tofu-scramble-surprises aren’t half bad.

Trust.

broccoli florets

So no, I do not snap pictures and write about everything I cook. Sometimes because those things barely constitute a meal, and sometimes because I think what I am making is so simple and straightforward it’s boring. Like this broccoli. This broccoli shows up at our table at least every couple of weeks, because it’s easy, it’s healthy, it’s cheap, and, perhaps most importantly, it’s super tasty. It’s just roasted broccoli though – just that vegetable that everyone loves to hate, and just the type of barely-even-a-recipe thing I’m sure you don’t want to hear about.

{but wait! there’s more…}

a healthy alternative: chickpea “tabbouleh” (gluten-free & vegan!)

chickpea 'tabbouleh' (gluten-free & vegan!)

I happen to still currently live in the “Gluten Free Capital” of the world (seriously….which also happens to be located smack in the center of the “Napa Valley of (glutinous) Beer” – go figure!), and though I certainly haven’t jumped on the wheat-free bandwagon and shunned all things bready, wheaty, and piled high on a blistered pizza crust (nothankyouverymuch), it has definitely influenced how I look at how much wheat I eat mindlessly on a daily and weekly basis (I do spend my days in a bakery, for Pete’s sake).

chickpea 'tabbouleh' whole chickpeas

chickpea 'tabbouleh' chickpeas chopped

I’m not about to go all glu-tard (haywire) on you and announce that I’m shunning my favorite carb, but I do like that this frame of mind has made me search for different meals and side dishes that aren’t sandwiched between two pieces of bread.

Everything in moderation, right?

chickpea 'tabbouleh' ingredients assembled

I love tabbouleh (an incredibly good plum iteration last seen here), but while making fresh hummus a few weeks ago I was struck by how similar in size and texture to bulgur the chickpeas appeared when I had coarsely chopped them in my processor. A quick google search confirmed that I was not the first to think of this, and I mentally cataloged the idea as a great make-ahead-take-along lunch.

{but wait! there’s more…}

trust me: cream braised fennel

Despite the fact it’s taken me almost two full years to finally tell you about this fennel, it’s been one of those ‘secret weapon’ recipes of sort; the type I pull out time and time again when I am in need of something simple, yet stunning, and crave something that is familiar and consistent at the same time.

Thank goodness it tastes so much better than it looks.

In truth, I’ve photographed this recipe on numerous occasions now, and each time with great intentions of both posting and waxing poetic about it. Unfailingly, I’ve uploaded the pictures, and squinted and squirmed. No matter in which light, no matter at what angle, and with absolutely zero positive correlation to the amount of wine I’d consumed, I just could not make the photos look appetizing.

Each time I’d find myself gazing upon a tangled and snarled mire of brownish-yellow mush, and fear that I would somehow come off as inauthentic or desperate whilst singing the praises of something that was just so…..comely.

After making this dish to much fanfare for two Thanksgiving dinners, one Easter brunch, and countless nights with friends at home, I’ve decided that no matter how warty this unsightly little fennel dish’s nose is, I don’t care — it’s just too perfect not to share.

{but wait! there’s more…}