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A Season of Pies–Fall Edition

19 Dec

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I was upset with myself for not making a pie all summer. How I passed over the chance to toss summer berries and stone fruit into a buttery crust, I have no idea.

At least now I can say I’ve made up for lost time by making all kinds of sweet and savory pies and tarts this fall (yes, it is technically still fall, the first day of winter is Tuesday, December 22 ah!). Continue reading

Root Vegetable Roast 2 Ways ~*Recipe ReDux*~

22 Mar

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This month’s Recipe ReDux theme is “cook once, eat twice,” or in my case, it is “roast once, eat twice.” Even though spring is in the air, root vegetables still dominate the markets here in New York City. I combined all of the root vegetables I had at home onto one baking sheet and roasted them.

I then tossed the roasted roots into a kale salad for a colorful, hearty and balanced lunch. Thanks for the inspiration, Miranda!

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Leftover salad can be used as a topping for a slab galette. I used the Food52 Cornmeal Galette Dough recipe, substituting white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour, and a fine arepa cornmeal instead of regular cornmeal because that was what I had on-hand. I added some grated Gruyere cheese on top of the vegetables.

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Don’t have the patience to make your own slab galette crust? Just find a

Continue reading

David Lebovitz’s Crumble de Butternut + Roasted Green Cabbage

7 Feb

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Are we sick of winter squash yet? Too bad, because thick-skinned roots, tubers and squash are here for the long haul.

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Apparently I am fond of butternut squash bakes and crumbles, as evidenced by the Figs in My Belly archives. To that I say, never enough! Continue reading

Thanksgiving 2014

29 Nov

I hope your holiday was delicious and special. My friend Natasha and I co-hosted and cooked most of the food together. Our friends brought extra sides (sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, green bean casserole), desserts (mascarpone tart with berries), and drinks (wine, beers, cider), all of which were amazing!

The menu:

Castelvetrano olives

Kale salad with apples and walnuts

Extra-buttery mashed potatoes

Mashed sweet potatoes

Kale stuffing with dates

Brussels sprouts with bacon

Green bean casserole

Spatchcocked turkey with gravy

Roasted garlic

Cranberry sauce (homemade and jellied)

Dessert:

Upside-down cranberry cake

Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Praline Topping

Peanut Butter Pie

Mascarpone tart with berry sauce

Hand-whipped cream

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Clockwise from left: stuffing a la Samin (and Charlie!), with dates instead of prunes and no sausage; spatchcocked and carved turkey from the Serious Eats recipe and video; cranberry sauce (can be made one week before TG) Continue reading

A Pie Class with Joy the Baker: Pics, Tips, and Memories

28 Oct

I started Figs in My Belly in June, 2009. At that point in my life, I was living in California, getting a degree in Nutritional Science, staging (interning) in the kitchen at a small handful of restaurants, working at a cooking camp for kids, and making dinners for my housemates at the co-op where I lived. Oh, and I was totally obsessed with Joy the Baker and her blog.

That August, I heard about a rooftop picnic in downtown Los Angeles that Joy was hosting and jumped on the opportunity. I brought my mom along and we spent the afternoon enjoying Joy’s biscuits, fried chicken, coleslaw, and cupcakes while mingling with other Joy the Baker fans.

Cut to more than five years later, and I now live in New York City with a short (four-year-long) pastry cook career currently on pause while I finish up a graduate degree in Nutrition Education and a dietetic internship to become a registered dietitian. And, as you might have guessed, I am still totally obsessed with Joy the Baker and her blog.

Joy is currently on tour for her latest cookbook, Homemade Decadence. I attended her book signing at The Brooklyn Kitchen, and the following weekend, my friend Michelle and I drove up to King Arthur Flour in Vermont, where Joy was teaching a hands-on pie making class. Joy taught two four-hour pie classes on the same day. She is a warrior.

I’ve made my share of pies in the past, but pie still intimidates me, and I wanted to gain some pro tips to boost my pie confidence. Plus, my friend Michelle never made her own pie before, so this was the perfect opportunity to learn. We road tripped for pie! Continue reading

Throw-Together Late Spring/Early Summer Pasta

8 Jun

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I’m back in New York after visiting California for 10 days, five in the Bay Area with friends and five in Los Angeles with family. All of the summer produce was in full swing: stone fruit, cherries, berries,  summer squashes, tomatoes…

New York greenmarkets literally just started selling strawberries, and rhubarb and asparagus are still hanging on, even into the month of June (this is rare according to my greenmarket vendor).

While I had a giant list of restaurants to eat at, I found myself cooking and baking quite often during my California visit.

I made a plum galette using this recipe as a guide (I didn’t use almonds to keep things simple). I made Smitten Kitchen’s brown butter salted rice crispy treats. I made the Silver Palate’s  zucchini bread. I made lots of smoothies. I made poached eggs and veggie egg scrambles. Simple things, but so nourishing.

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I found myself making this throw-together pasta twice, once in the Bay Area and once in Los Angeles. The trick: save about 1/2-3/4 cup of the water that you use to cook the pasta in. Adding back the hot starchy water keeps the veggie-filled pasta creamy and coated.

I made this pasta the first time in Berkeley, with my friends Sara and Nir. We used a mix of chard and kale, onion, ribboned asparagus, basil, and lemon zest. Pasta water, Parmesan, a splash of red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper were added as finishing touches. A great vegetarian meal. To go with the pasta, Sara made us a colorful salad with lemon dressing, and Nir made his cheesy garlic olive oiled bread.

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Sara, Nir, and I loved the pasta so much, so I made it again for my parents on my last night in L.A. My mom grilled some sausages and we added them into the pasta at the end. I used zucchini ribbons instead of asparagus. No basil, but some rosemary on the side. And lemon zest and juice this time instead of a splash of vinegar.

Remember: save your cooking water. It makes all the difference.

New York, I’m waiting very patiently for the rest of the summer produce to arrive. Until then, I’m eating as much rhubarb, strawberry, young greens, and asparagus as I can.

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Throw Together Late Spring/Early Summer Pasta

makes about 3-4 servings

1/2 pound pasta (if you can find it, use mini penne)

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium zucchini or 1/2 bunch of asparagus

1/2 onion, red or white

1-2 cloves garlic

1 small bunch kale or chard

zest and juice from 1 small lemon

Salt and pepper, to taste

Parmesan cheese, to taste

Grilled sausage (I used a chicken cilantro sausage), optional

Using a vegetable peeler and holding one end of the vegetable, shave the zucchini (or asparagus) into long ribbons. Chop the onion, mince the garlic, and chop the kale and/or chard (you can use the chard stems but not the kale stems).

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add a hefty amount of salt and the pasta. Cook according to the package directions or until al dente. In the last minute of cooking, drop the zucchini or asparagus ribbons into the boiling water. When the pasta is cooked, drain the pasta/vegetable ribbon mixture. *SAVE 1/2-3/4 cup of the water and set aside.*

Heat the grill and grill some sausages. Once grilled, cut them up into bite-size pieces. (alternatively, you could cut the sausages up and saute them in the skillet with the kale, or omit altogether to keep things vegetarian).

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Add the kale and cook until just wilted. Turn off the heat.

Mix the cooked pasta/ribbons in with the sauteed onions and greens mixture. Pour in the reserved pasta water and toss. Toss in the lemon zest and juice. Mix in the grilled sausages. Add salt and pepper and Parmesan to taste.

You’ll want seconds. Trust me. 

Tomato Blue Cheese Tarte Tatin

24 Aug

I’ve been busy enjoying life on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest, in a petite rustic cabin with no running water and no electricity. For 4 days, I was peeing in the woods and not taking showers. I wore a headlamp and lit candles to see at night. The days were filled with hiking and bushwhacking up mountains and through meadows, and the evenings with melting marshmallows by a fire on the beach. It was totally dreamy to be out in nature, to be one with the biting bugs and scurrying animals and calm waves of the ocean’s tide coming in and out.

It’s amazing what one can miss with just a week absence of internet. The moment I had access to my computer again, I started plowing through, trying to catch up on all the blogs I read.

Heidi’s tomato tarte tatin immediately caught my eye, especially since I had a pie crust in my freezer just waiting to be used.

I made a big trip to the farmer’s market today, where I found heaps of gorgeous tomatoes, onions, green and yellow beans, cucumbers, melon, and white peaches. I even bought my lunch at the farmer’s market–whole wheat focaccia with eggplant, spinach, and goat cheese.

This tarte tatin is basically an upside down pie. Filling on the bottom, crust on top. I sautéed onions and combined them with fresh tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and salt. Into a pie plate and sprinkled with blue cheese. I think blue cheese and honey are a swoon-worthy combination, so I squeezed a bit of honey over everything for good measure. Pie crust on top. Egg wash. Salt. Oven.

The blue cheese melts right into the tomatoes, the juices so rich they give off hints of a beefy French onion soup.

Real talk: I used the cap of my canola oil to cut out the circles in the center of the pie crust.

Also, I like to place the pie plate onto a baking sheet. It just makes it easier to take in and out of the oven.

Tomato Blue Cheese Tarte Tatin

adapted from Heidi, of 101 cookbooks

serves 6-8

**NOTE: Use whatever pie crust you like. I think Heidi’s rye crust sounds great. I used David Lebovitz’s recipe (see below) that can go into a savory or sweet pie. 

1 extra large (or 2 medium) onion(s), chopped

1-2 tablespoons canola oil

1 1/2 pounds (24 oz.) small tomatoes

scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1-2 tablespoons flour

2-3 tablespoons blue cheese

1 teaspoon honey, for drizzling

1 pie crust

1 egg (for egg wash), whisked

flaky salt, for sprinkling on top

Preheat the oven to 400F / 205C.

While the oven is warming, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium and saute the onions. Cook, stirring regularly, until the onions are deeply golden and caramelized, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat.

While the onions are cooking, cut any larger tomatoes in half. You can leave the small cherry tomatoes whole. Add the tomatoes to the caramelized onions along with the sea salt and balsamic vinegar. Transfer to a deep pie dish. If you get the sense that your tomatoes are quite juicy, and might release a lot of liquid, you can toss the mixture with a tablespoon or two of flour at this point. Sprinkle mixture with crumbled blue cheese and drizzle with a touch of honey.

Roll out your pie dough, cut out 3 circles around the center, and cover the tomato mixture – tucking in the sides a bit. Brush the crust with the beaten egg wash and bake in the top third of the oven until the crust is deeply golden and the tomatoes are bubbling a bit at the sides, 25 – 30 minutes. Let it rest for a few minutes, then serve.

Prep time: 10 min – Cook time: 45 min

Pie Crust

from David Lebovtiz’s Ready for Dessert

makes 2 rounds

**NOTE: You only need 1 round for the Tomato Blue Cheese Tarte Tatin. You can keep the other round in the freezer.

2 1/2 cups (350 g) all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (8 ounces/225 g) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch (3-cm) cubes and chilled

6-8 tablespoons ice water

In a large bowl using a pastry blender, in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the chilled butter cubes and mix just until the butter is broken up into rough 1/4-inch pieces.

Add 6 tablespoons of the ice water all at once and continue mixing just until the dough begins to hold together. If necessary, mix in the additional 2 tablespoons ice water.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a disk about 1 inch thick. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and firm, at least 1 hour.

STORAGE: The disks of dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 2 months.