I just spent the past week in Paris, which is quite possibly my favorite city in the world. I definitely warmed up my appetite for Thanksgiving this week.
My favorite thing about Paris is of course the food. It is pretty hard to have a bad meal there. Although, a true Parisian might disagree, but my experience has always been that the food anywhere you go there is either good, great, or exceptional. I had tons of recommendations from friends and fellow bloggers, and although they led me to many wonderful places, I realized that there was so much good food to discover, you almost didn't need many recommendations. It is sometimes more fun to discover places by chance.
Even though I always enjoy the food in Paris or any country I visit, I do not typically eat the way that I did the last week. Croissants for breakfast, french onion soup and french fries for lunch … and seeking out a pastry and espresso in-between each meal. You will not find kale on any menu in Paris, and part of me likes it that way. I enjoy being places very different from where I live, but now I am ready to get back to my (much healthier) routine .... well ..... after Thanksgiving, of course.
I am sure that potatoes and brussels sprouts will find their way to your table this Thanksgiving and probably a few more times before the end of the year. Originally, I was thinking of making some kind of hash recipe for a side dish that included both sprouts and potatoes, however, it's been a while since I've had a latke and when I brought out all of these ingredient to make a hash, the latke light bulb went off.
Maybe it was also my subconscience telling me to post this recipe this week. By complete chance, I also realized that it is Hanukkah this week, which I do not celebrate, but my friends who do might just be eating latkes. This dish is the perfect hybrid dish for the hybrid holiday this year.
If you're not celebrating anything this week, you can also enjoy these for lunch or dinner maybe with some greens, or over a salad. Or, you can do what I did, and eat these for breakfast with a poached egg on top, since for me, anytime is a fine time for a brussel sprout latke.
As a kid, if you would have asked me where (edible) pumpkin came from, without hesitation I would answer: from a can. The thought of chopping up a pumpkin for anything other than decoration and recreation would have baffled me. I always thought that "real" pumpkins were for carving, and canned pumpkin was for eating.
Because of this childhood confusion, I still feel a little weird about buying a pumpkin at the grocery store, chopping it into pieces, and roasting it in the oven. Not to mention, lugging it around new york city with me. Awkward.
The other day I went to the store to buy a pumpkin for cooking purposes. I was scouring the selection in Chelsea Market, trying to pick out the biggest size I could carry home comfortably. Not an easy task. I had a store employee helping me out, we were picking up pumpkins one by one until I found one that fit perfectly in my arms.
If I was going to make the effort to carry a several pound pumpkin home, I wanted to have pumpkin leftovers for days. I wanted to make multiple meals with this one large pumpkin.
I purchased my big orange pumpkin, and several small white ones (for decoration), and I was on my way home, arms stretched long around the pumpkin hoping, praying it doesn't drop and smash on the sidewalk into a million pieces.
When I got my pumpkin home, I sat it outside next to the two little ones. I was still feeling a little conflicted. He looked so happy sitting there with the other pumpkins ... was I really going to chop him up, or could he just stay there happily decorating our front stoop.
Okay, get a hold of yourself. It is just a pumpkin. It does not have feelings, and if I were a pumpkin I would so much rather be an empanada instead of being stoop decor.
It was settled, pumpkin empanadas were the winner.
As I am sure you guessed, canned pumpkin does not makes it's way into my home anymore. I'm homemade all the way here. But because I live in NYC and the whole pumpkin carrying business is less than ideal, I usual roast only one or two pumpkins over the course of the fall with the hopes of getting a few different recipes out of them. And because of their short season and the labor involved in roasting them, I am sure you probably do the same.
Originally these guys were going to be mini pumpkin hand pies, but when I posted a picture on Instagram a few people commented that they looked like empanadas. Sooo, I immediately consulted with my live-in empanada expert (Michael). He tried one and he agreed - these were totally empanadas. Really good empanadas.
Let's be serious for a second. I'm not fooling anyone with this vegetable stack.
You and I both know that stacking vegetables makes them look wayyy better than if I were to just carelessly throw them into a salad. It's impressive, it's fun, it's thought out, it makes you feel super creative. We should all be stacking more vegetables.
It's like when I get my hair blown out, I just feel a little more fancy and little more special. Same hair, same person, just a little something extra. Same tomatoes, same ingredients, but they just look and feel a little more special.
When I was at the market the other day, I saw dozens of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes. I wanted to take a bunch home and love them and make them feel special. I didn't want to mutilate them, I wanted to show off their quirky crevices and imperfect shape. I wanted to bring out their juicy texture and taste. I wanted to throw a party and have them be the main event.
Well, I ended up making this salad and ate it all by myself for lunch. Tomato party for one .... why not, right? But as I was eating it, I daydreamed about how impressive it would be to walk out with these gorgeous stacks of tomatoes as an appetizer at our next bqq. I am going to do that, I think you should too.
Today is the start of one of my favorite weekends of the whole year.
I'm a huge fan of summer and this weekend signifies the start of the summer for us here in the east coast. Although summer's official start date is not until late June, this is the weekend for us that the grill get uncovered, some new plants get planted, and the flip flops get dusted off.
One of my favorite things about summer is cooking and hanging out with friends. Grabbing vegetables straight from the garden or the nearby farm stand, and having people over for a causal meal is just the best.
Backyard BBQs, beach picnics, long leisurely brunches. That's what summer is all about.
I love to have nibbly bits around whenever we are entertaining, and guacamole is always a popular snack. Sure, you can buy gaucamole in the store, but it is so much better (and impressive) when you make it at home.
I love to fanci-fy otherwise simple foods. Adding peas and fava beans is a super easy way to make a regular guacamole a little fancier. Since it is not officially summer yet, this snack is a marriage of a few great spring vegetables that you can still find right now, and one of my favorite summertime snack foods.
I am keeping this short and sweet, because I am off to cook for a big girls dinner tonight. I am so excited to kick off the summer with a huge home-cooked meal celebrating friends.
Yes, this is my second artichoke recipe of the season. No, this will not be the last.
As you are probably well aware, I'm kind of obsessed with artichokes. They are one of my favorite foods of all time. I'm not sure exactly why I love them so much. My mom used to make big batches of steamed artichokes when I was growing up, and when they were in season, it seemed like we always had stuffed artichokes around. I'd come home from school and immediately run to the fridge with hopes that I would find something yummy to snack on, and if that yummy thing happened to be an artichoke, well then it was a happy day.
My mom always used the same recipe, and when I started making them for myself I used my mom's recipe. It was not until the past couple of years that I started to branch out prepare them in different ways.
When we were in Rome for our honeymoon last year, it was artichoke season. Lucky me. Lucky us. There was not a single restaurant in Rome that did not have an artichoke on the menu. Some as an appetizers, some as a side, and a few as a main course. They were prepared in every which way, steamed, fried, grilled, served in salads, dissected, or whole. And we tried them all. It definitely inspired me to branch out and try different preparations.
This marinating and grilling preparation has been my absolute favorite this year. So much so that I have not stuffed or steamed a single artichoke this season ..... (yet). It is a little easier because you don't have as much prep and cook time. You just steam them lightly, toss them in a bag with some olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and lemon and when you're ready to eat them just throw them on a grill or grill pan for a few minutes. As with most things, the longer you marinate the better.
I have made these about 4-5 time in the past few weeks. I have wondered if Michael is getting sick of artichokes, I don't think it possible for me to.
I’ve been making and eating a lot of lettuce wraps recently. For lunch, for an appetizer, for no real reason at all. I know it might not sound very exciting, but trust me, I'm talking about some high-maintenance lettuce wraps here.
High-maintenance in the best way possible. Bear with me now...
Not the kind of high-maintenance that would scare you away. You know I don't like things to be too complicated around here. Just the kind of high-maintenance that takes something that needs a little fixing up and making it a little fancier.
It all started when I found the most beautiful head of butter lettuce at my local Whole Foods, that was grown here, locally in Brooklyn. Beautiful lettuce from Brooklyn? I was smitten. This lettuce was meant for big, beautiful, veggie-filled lettuce wraps.
I started with a basic lettuce wrap with lots of raw veggies and some pea pesto that I had made recently. They were delicious. The pea pesto really made the wrap, but I thought maybe it could use a little something else.
A few days later, Michael and I wanted a snack, and I had a little leftover butter lettuce so I decided to make some more lettuce wraps. This time I added some black beans for some protein and a dash of hot sauce for some spice. These lettuce wraps rocked our world.
Because they were so good, I had to make them again. This time for myself for lunch, but I went one step further and I decided to make my own hot sauce. I have been dying to make my own sriracha for quite some time and in browsing some favorite blogs of mine I found this great recipe to make a proper sriracha (one that would taste exactly like the original but without the added preservatives) however it requires days of fermentation. Something I will be tackling soon, but not today. I needed some hot sauce, pronto.
So I found a few other recipes, this one from Winnie of Healthy Green Kitchen, via this post from Sarah from Sprouted Kitchen. It looked super easy so I gave it a go. This hot sauce is awesome. Although it is not exactly like sriracha, it is close enough for me. I made a large batch and have been putting it on anything and everything.
I have a thing for hot sauce if you couldn't guess.
Now, of course, if you are not a hot sauce person, you can totally leave it out. The lettuce wraps are just as great without it. You can also make up any combination of veggies and beans that you like. White beans and red pepper, chickpeas and carrots. This is a fridge leftover kid of recipe.
What's also great about these is that they are like a reconfigured salad. So if you are bored with your salad routine, go make yourself some fancy, high-maintenance lettuce wraps for lunch.