The key when making this recipe is having all of the shallots, garlic, and ginger ready to go before you start frying the mustard seeds and cumin. The spices can burn if you're occupied at the cutting board.Read More
Jerusalem is one of those rare books that inspires both so-called foodie people and more casual cooks. Several months ago, I overheard two women at Book Passage in the San Francisco Ferry Building talking about how much they liked the book. Part of it is all the vibrant photography--it really makes you want to eat more vegetables.Read More
Punch, a drinks magazine, called the negroni “the kale of cocktails,” which means kale jumped the shark a long time ago. Other than its health halo, kale is great for how easy it is to prepare.
Five or so years ago, I wasn't so hip to this fact. I followed cookbooks like Sunday Suppers at Lucques, which, if memory serves me, has a recipe in which you deglaze the kale 3 times in stock to make sure it's really tender by the time you eat it. This is great, but not always necessary. Sometimes it tastes better when cooked quickly, IMO.
Hence this kale salad/side dish/light dinner option: After washing the leaves, I tear the stems out using my hands and discard them or dice them and cook them with garlic and shallots until soft. I tear the leaves into pieces. While they still have some of the water clinging to their ridges, I put the leaves in a pot with olive oil and garlic and close the lid.
Another thing that I have on hand for quick dinners is canned chickpeas. I roast them with olive oil in the oven to give them a crisp exterior, often followed with a pinch of cumin seeds or garam masala and a shake of chile flakes for spice. They’re great stirred into pasta this way, or added to salad. For the best texture, I put drained chickpeas in the oven–without any oil or spices–and then turn the oven on to preheat. This way, the surface of the chickpeas dries out a bit, allowing them to better absorb seasonings.
To serve more than two people, double or triple the quantity of kale; it cooks down significantly. If using a whole can of chickpeas, make sure the beans fit in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and add enough olive oil to ensure they don't stick.
- 1 bunch kale
- 1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil (approximately)
- 2 pinches dried chile flakes
- ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
- Pinch of garam masala (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic, split lengthwise
- 1 lemon, for juice and zest
Tear the stems out of the kale leaves and discard. (Or saute separately with a sliced shallot.) Tear the leaves into 2-inch or so pieces.
Put the chickpeas on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400F. After 4 or 5 minutes (depending how fast your oven preheats), the chickpeas will have dried out some.
Drizzle the chickpeas with 2 tablespoons oil and season with a pinch of chile flakes, a pinch of salt, cumin seeds, and garam masala and give them a good stir, dislodging them from the bottom of the pan if they have started to stick. Roast until the outside begins to crisp up, 10 to 15 minutes depending on how fast the oven heats.
Meanwhile, cook the kale. In a large pot, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil (or more, if you like) over medium heat. Add the garlic and a pinch of chile flakes and let the garlic sweat in the oil for a moment. Add the kale and a pinch of salt, cover, lower the heat to low, and let the leaves steam and wilt, approximately 3 minutes.
Remove the lid and give the kale a stir. Let it cook, uncovered, until some of the leaves crisp up. If you'd like, you can fish out the garlic, mince it, and add it back into the pot.
To finish: stir the chickpeas into the kale. Grate some lemon zest over the surface. Slice a wedge out of the lemon and squeeze it over the top. Give everything another good stir and taste for seasoning, adding salt, lemon, or spice as desired.
The gap between what most of us think of when we think "fall produce" and what's actually in season is pretty wide -- especially so in San Francisco, where local strawberries are STILL going strong. I made strawberry-apple jam a couple of days ago with a case of local strawberries. Granted, these were not the best strawberries I've had all year. But the notion that we have them at all?
In other words, fall produce doesn't always = pumpkins. And that's why I'm posting this recipe for peperonata: September, when the market floods with sweet bell and gypsy peppers, is probably the best time of the year to make it.
I came across this recipe while working on a recipe development project, which is always a good excuse to dip back into various cookbooks for new ideas. I also often turn back to familiar ground, like my old, trusty A16 book. I was researching meatballs for the project, and I knew we had developed a chicken meatball recipe for the book. I did find those meatballs, but I also got sidetracked with the peperonata we paired with it. While the peperonata was buried as a subrecipe, it really should have stood out alone as a separate recipe, since it also makes a versatile condiment, sandwich topping, or sauce for pasta.
It's been a long time since I've made it, but this recent batch made me remember why I liked it so much. I did lighten things up a bit (the original had a lot more olive oil -- delicious, but probably unnecessary.) The only thing that's time consuming is roasting the peppers. I used the oven (city living means no backyard grill) but if you do have a grill, it would take far less time to char & peel the peppers.
So here you go -- peperonata for early fall.
Adapted from A16 Food + Wine
Makes 4 to 5 cups
- 2 lb red and yellow bell peppers (about 5)
- 3 TB extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for roasting the peppers
- 2 TB capers, soaked and drained
- 1 cup yellow onion, sliced
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1/4 tsp dried chile flakes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 TB red wine vinegar
Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Put the peppers on the prepared sheet and coat with 1 TB olive oil. Roast for 15 minutes. Turn the peppers and roast them until the peppers are charred and soft, 15-20 more minutes.
Return the peppers to the bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let sit for approximately 10 minutes. Remove the skins, core, and seeds, and slice the peppers into strips.
In a saute pan over medium heat, warm the remaining 2 TB olive oil. Fry the capers briefly, then stir in the onion, fennel, chile flakes, and salt. Cook until the onions is soft, about 5 minutes.
Deglaze the pan with vinegar and concentrate and stir in the peppers. Cook for a few minutes, then taste for the seasoning, adjusting with more salt or vinegar as needed. The peppers can be served warm or at room temperature or stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Here's some exciting news: I have read the manuscript pages for the Burma Superstar cookbook for probably the last time before it gets sent to the printer. Creating a book is a crazy-long process: I started working with the restaurant in the summer of 2014; in 2015, I visited Myanmar twice for research. And in February this year, I turned in the first draft of the manuscript. February! It's since been designed, edited, revised, edited, revised some more.... and now it's pretty much done. At least for the next several months when it goes to China to be printed and then hangs out in a warehouse before it arrives in stores (or Amazon) in March.
Sometime last year, in between trips, I came across this recipe for braised beans that comes from Myanmar's Shan State. Bordering China and Thailand, Shan State is a large, diverse place. It's where the best tea leaves for Burmese tea leaf salad comes from. It is also where, years ago, journalist Karen Coates encountered this recipe while trekking through the countryside. She posted a recipe for these beans, perfumed with peanut oil and ginger, on her blog, The Rambling Spoon. After I talked with her about other Burmese-related things while researching the Burma Superstar Cookbook, I made a note to try these beans out.
The beans represent everything good about home-cooked Burmese dishes: they are economical and easy to make, no gadgets needed. In Karen's recipe, everything is cooked in the same pot, which is how these beans would be prepared in Myanmar. I veer off from this method and make the beans in a more “refried bean” style, cooking the onions and garlic in oil and then adding cooked beans. Karen uses peanut oil, but I was out and forgot to pick more up at the store, so I used vegetable oil for this recipe. Peanut oil would give the beans more flavor, but vegetable oil is an OK second option choice. Even better than plain vegetable oil would be to use oil remaining from frying onions until crisp. I recommend making the beans the day before you plan to serve them; the next day the ginger flavor becomes more pronounced.
Karen recommends being flexible with the beans–pinto, cannellini, adzuki, navy, a mix…. any and all will do. And while the beans would probably be cooked over a charcoal flame in Myanmar, which would give them a savory smoky edge, they can just as easily be simmered on a modern kitchen range, which is what I did. I went about things a little differently, adding some scallions at the end to boost the onion flavor, but it’s completely optional. For spicier beans, minced serrano chile is a nice addition, too. I served the beans alongside a pork curry with rice, and the plate, in a sort of abstract way, reminded me of pulled pork with beans and cornbread.
Ginger-Braised Burmese Beans
- 2 1/2 cups / 535 grams dried beans, such as pinto, navy, or cannellini
- 1/3 cup peanut or vegetable oil, plus more for finishing
- 1 sliced yellow onion
- 5 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 (2-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and minced (about 1/3 cup)
- 3 tomatoes, diced
- Pinch of chile flakes
- 2 green onions, sliced (optional)
- Lime wedges (optional)
- Rinse the beans well in a colander. Transfer to a large bowl, cover with 2 inches of cool water, and let soak for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Drain the beans, transfer to a 4- to 6-quart pot, and add water to cover by about 1 inch. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for 1 1/2 hours, or until tender. Remove from the heat, stir in 2 teaspoons salt, and let the beans stand in their cooking liquid for at least 30 minutes (or refrigerate them in their cooking liquid and finish the dish the next day). Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid (you’ll have about 4 cups).
- In the same pot used to cook the beans, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and a generous pinch of salt and cook until the onion has softened, about 6 minutes. While cooking, mash the garlic against the side of the pot to break it down. Stir in the ginger and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and chile flakes and cook until the tomatoes have softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Stir in the beans, another teaspoon of salt, and 2 cups of the saved cooking liquid. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until the beans achieve a creamy consistency. Taste, adding more salt as desired (beans do need a fair amount, so don’t shy away from the salt if they taste flat). If the beans are too thick, stir in a little more of the cooking water and continue to cook.
- Remove from the heat. (At this point, the beans can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 1 week. Reheat gently before serving.) Drizzle peanut oil on top to serve, if desired. Serve with lime wedges if you want the beans to taste a bit brighter
Louisa Shafia’s book, The New Persian Kitchen, strikes a good balance between the familiar and the new—enough to make me comfortable but also enough to break me out of my grocery shopping routine. For instance, she drizzles a mint oil over stuffed artichokes and combines combines strawberries, radishes, and shavings of raw rhubarb with leafy greens for a sweet-sour salad. I'd like to try both this spring.
After flipping through the book flagging recipes to try out, I had a shopping list comprising potatoes, tamarind, tempeh, and dill, an herb that I like but never seem to cook with very often. By using tempeh, a fermented form of soybeans with the texture reminiscent of cheese curds, in the potato cakes, the protein game is upped substantially. In general, these were a fun alternate to veggie burgers or a potato side dish and would be even easier to make if you already have leftover mashed or roasted potatoes on hand. I'd also like to try mashed Japanese sweet potatoes in this recipe, too.
Before we get to the recipe, let's get some things straight about tamarind paste (also called pulp) versus tamarind concentrate. I'm a big fan of tamarind paste, and after developing Burmese recipes for the Burma Superstar cookbook, I also found that a block of it keeps for a while (several months) in the fridge. If you find tamarind paste among Asian ingredients/condiments in a well-stocked grocery store, soak a good-sized knob in water and then pass it through a fine-mesh strainer. In this recipe, however, I used a Thai tamarind concentrate, which was much darker in color, looking more like molasses. Yet it worked, too, making a necessarily tart counterpoint to the potatoes.
Potato Cakes with Tamarind Sauce
adapted from The New Persian Kitchen, by Louisa Shafia
Makes 15 cakes
1 (8-ounce) package tempeh, cut into cubes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow onion, minced
2 tablespoons ground coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 cups coarsely mashed potatoes (about 3 yukon gold potatoes, cooked)
2 large eggs, whisked
1 cup tightly packed cilantro, minced
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
high-heat oil for frying, like refined coconut oil (not virgin), ghee, or grapeseed oil
1/4 cup Thai tamarind concentrate
3 tablespoons cane sugar
1 teaspoon minced ginger or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Pulse the tempeh in a food processor until it has the consistency of ground meat. Pulse in the garlic, onion, coriander, and turmeric, then transfer to a large bowl. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, mix in the potatoes, eggs, cilantro, salt, and pepper. To shape each potato cakes, pat 1/3 cup of dough into a 3/4-inch thick disk.
Heat a large skilled over medium-high heat. (I cheated and use nonstick.) Pour in enough oil for a depth of 1/4 inch. In batches to avoid crowding the pan, brown the cakes until golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to the baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes to ensure the centers are cooked through.
Whisk together the tamarind, sugar, ginger, and salt. Serve the cakes hot or at room temperature with a drizzle of tamarind sauce. Leftover cakes keep for 3 days in the refrigerator, although I chose to freeze mine.
I came up in the kitchen ranks when The French Laundry Cookbook was the final word among line cooks on how to do things right. “Big-pot blanching,” i.e., cooking a small quantity of green vegetables in the biggest pot of boiling water you could find, was how you cooked green vegetables. If that’s how they did it at the Laundry, we all wanted to do it that way, too.
It was many years later when I learned how flavorful green vegetables can be when they are slow cooked to the point where they turn army green. This is especially the case with romano beans, which taste much richer when braised in a simple tomato sauce. The first time I saw the beans cooked this way, I was sure that the cook had no idea what she was doing. How arrogant of me: it turned out that she knew far more than me that this was a much better way to cook the beans.
The quantities in this recipe aren’t as important as the method. Basically, you want enough tomato sauce to coat the romano beans, since it will continue to reduce in the oven. But more olive oil and garlic are welcome additions for added richness.
Braised Romano Beans
- 10 ounces / 285 grams romano beans, trimmed
- 9 ounces / 255 grams fresh tomatoes, cored and chopped
- ⅛ cup (or so) extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
- Pinch of dried chile flakes
- Basil leaves
- Parmesan cheese, for grating (optional)
Preheat an oven to 350F. In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the romano beans until almost tender, about 3 minutes. Drain the beans and transfer to a 6 by 10-inch baking pan or similar-sized oven-ready vessel.
Fit a food mill with the medium disk and place over a pot. Run the tomatoes through the food mill. (The mill will catch most of the skins and seeds.) You will have about 1 cup of tomato sauce. Pour in the olive oil and add the garlic, salt, and chile flakes. Put the pot over medium heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the basil and pour over the romano beans.
Put the pan in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the beans are tender and coated with the tomato sauce. Serve with a grating of Parmesan.