Shiso, pomegranate & blood orange

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I’m writing to you from London {well, virtually.. I made this right before I left!} with a winter citrus report.

Loving these crisp, clean flavors bringing with them a piece of sunshine on a whiteout day.

If you have not used shiso before, it is full of vibrant lemon-y flavor itself, with a hidden depth reminiscent of Thai basil.

I hesitate to call this a salad – although this can be a supremely elegant dish, it is equally fantastic eaten with your hands, by wrapping a bite of all of the ingredients in each shiso leaf.

Shiso, pomegranate & blood orange

You’ll need:

  • 1 Cara Cara or blood orange
  • 1 small tangerine
  • 6-8 shiso leaves
  • 4 T pistachios, shelled
  • 3 T pomegranate seeds
  • fleur de sel
  • fresh lemon juice
  • green extra virgin olive oil

1. Supreme the blood orange and tangerine and arrange on top of shiso leaves.

2. Lightly crush the shelled pistachios with the back of a knife. Add the toppings to the citrus.

3. Dress simply with green extra virgin olive oil, a little lemon juice, and a sprinkle of fleur de sel.

More winter citrus inspiration here and here.

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Espelette spiced red lentil and carrot soup

IMG_2013 (1)There are really no excuses not to cook this time of year – in fact, it’s one of the best opportunities for cozy, indoor quality time to bond with your friends and family.

I hope that’s what you spent your day doing yesterday, if you found yourself snowed in on the East Coast. The storm has passed and the snow is so still and beautiful.

I baked some bread and enjoyed the rare quiet of the city, away from the usual hum.

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The snow day diffused light was something to behold too, so lots of photos were taken!

But back to the soup i.e. perfect comfort food for this weather.

This soup is an easy, warming delight of espelette-spiced lentils and finely grated carrots.

I love using espelette pepper, which originates from the Basque regions of France and Spain {originally likely from Espelette itself!}, for its nuanced smoky flavor with hints of sea salt, iodine, and cayenne.

And if you top this with a poached egg, it will completely send it over the top.

Red lentil and carrot soup

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 4 cups chicken stock (you can, of course, substitute vegetable stock, if need be)
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 t piment d’espelette
  • 1/3 t ground black pepper
  • 1/3 t ground cumin
  • salt
  • eggs, poached (optional)

1. Rinse the lentils well and bring to a simmer in the chicken stock.

2. After about 20 minutes, grate the carrots using a Microplane and cut the spinach (tip: use scissors!) directly into the soup. Add spices and stir to combine.

3. Cook uncovered for another 10-15 minutes until lentils are just tender. Taste for seasonings, turn off heat, and cover.

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I like this topped with something crunchy like rice or almond crackers or even some tortilla chips.

Oh, and you can add that over-the-top poached egg too.

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Provençal braised chicken

IMG_2007It’s cold and windy outside which means that it is slow cooking and gathering around the table season inside.

That said, this is that rare dish that’s season-less – it manages to offer comfort in winter and capture flavors in summer.

And as the chicken slow-braises in the oven, I can almost smell the salty sea and the subtle smell of drying sage and olive branches swaying above.

While I miss summer and France terribly, there are so many things to enjoy about this season in New York, whether it is exploring beautiful state parks, skiing or skating, or warming up with a special hot chocolate.

Tips: This is perfect served with couscous or pearl barley.

Provençal braised chicken

You’ll need:

  •  6-8 skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 lemon + zest
  • 1/3 cup green pitted olives + brine
  • 1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic – 1 minced, the rest left whole
  • 1 white turnip, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1 can San Marzano tomatoes
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper, pink peppercorns

1. Cook all of this in the same dutch oven. Brown the chicken first with a little olive oil, take out and set aside.

2. Sauté the onions, garlic and mushrooms. Add chicken, olives, and lemon zest and deglaze with lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. Add the remaining ingredients, stir to combine, season and taste. Cook on stove on low heat for about an hour until the sauce is bubbling and thickened.

3. Preheat oven to 300F. Transfer chicken to oven and cook for another hour and a half until the chicken is falling apart and tender.

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4. Serve over warm couscous.

IMG_2009p.s. This will taste even better tomorrow and/or the day after..!

{simple suppers} Ricotta & spinach quiche

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Quiche is a favorite of mine for many reasons but mainly because it’s such an incredibly flexible dish, both in terms of seasonal ingredients and meals – there’s some extra satisfaction in having something that’s ready for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

The ricotta makes this quiche extra fluffy, making for a perfect light dinner to enjoy tonight. Ideally, in a cozy nook or a window seat, wrapped in a plaid blanket.

Tips: Remember to roll out and freeze your dough an hour or so before baking for extra crispness.

Ricotta and spinach quiche

You’ll need:

  • pate brisee (recipe in link)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup part skim ricotta
  • 4 T wholegrain mustard
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2-3 small carrots, sliced
  • salt, pepper, pink peppercorns

1. After your pate brisee is ready & cooled, roll it out and drape over your pie pan. Crimp the edges, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for about an hour.

2. Preheat oven to 375F. Prick the bottom of the crust lightly with a fork.

3. Whisk together milk, ricotta, mustard, and eggs. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Layer the chopped spinach on the bottom of the crust, pour egg and cheese mixture on top, spreading it out evenly.

Top with carrots and sprinkle with a few pink peppercorns for color.

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5. Bake for half an hour, until the crust is golden and lightly browned, and the filling set.

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For more quiche ideas, tomato & basil, chanterelle & thyme, and cauliflower recipes here.

It’s also a great way to sneak some veggies in for the kids {shh..}

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Fancy toast {it’s what’s for breakfast!}

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I must say that the events of the past week in France have left me shaken and a little breathless.

Of course, the silver lining is seeing people band together in the face of adversity or tragedy, but the fact that it often takes a cataclysm to get to that point is also a little depressing…

All that aside, now is as good a time as any to re-focus on simple pleasures and start every day with a thank you and a smile.

Toast is having a moment, as in, avocado toast, ricotta toast, muesli toast etc., and it’s no wonder – fancy toast is a great way to perk up your breakfast while still keeping things easy and ‘one bite.’

One of my current favorite combinations is this perfect marriage of nutty bread, fluffy ricotta and flax seeds, topped with a little bit of amareno cherries.

{learn how to make your own ricotta cheese here}

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Not to mention my perennial French radish breakfast tartine (you can also switch it up with nice firm cucumbers and za’atar) which also offers a satisfying crunch.

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So, leave some time in the morning to get creative!

p.s. A cause close to my heart – No Kids Hungry – recently reached another milestone of getting breakfast to more kids at school, on its way to connecting 1 million children to access to school breakfasts. Breakfast changes lives! Please, read more about it here.

Refresh and rejuvenate {winter vegetables + virtuous starts!}

Every January is an opportunity to start fresh and refrain – for a bit, at least – from the indulgences of the season.

Here are some of my favorite winter vegetable dishes that will help you get a healthy start to the year, full of color and energy!

{can you tell I am on my third day of no coffee? it will feel great..eventually}

Watermelon radish and apple slaw

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Charred squash and pickled radish soba salad

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Brussels sprouts, red cabbage and kale frittata

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Zucchini, lemon & feta

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Cauliflower tabbouleh 

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Roasted squash with chili-tarragon butter

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Beet & beet greens soup (serve warm)

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{happy 2015!} + Postcard from Nyack, NY

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Happy New Year, one and all!

There is something to be said for the semblance and motivation of a clean slate and a fresh start.

This is a belated postcard from last week spent up in the Nyacks, watching the icy and foggy mornings dissolve into afternoons full of winter sunshine.

I am a city girl, but I do adore the feel and flavor of quaint small towns.

And Nyack meets all the prerequisites: it has an adorable breakfast place (Strawberry Place), a bookstore full of hidden treasures (Pickwick Books) …

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A beautiful and busy library in an old Carnegie building overlooking the Hudson River, a great coffee shop (Gypsy Donuts)..

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A place for morning buns & zucchini muffins and a very popular cyclist stop (The Runcible Spoon), and a little art museum (Edward Hopper House).

And streets to wander and wander.

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Here’s to great wanders in 2015.

Wrapping up Xmas

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I wish it could go on being Christmas… but as with many things that we spend a long time preparing for, it’s often over much too soon and now all the toasts have been made and the presents have been unwrapped.

Hope that you all had a beautiful celebration with loved ones and plenty of down time (and plenty of peppermint cremes, if you’re me!).

We didn’t get a white Christmas this year, so I will make sure to enjoy this sunny day in the meantime. And try to eat a lot of clementines, a winter fruit addiction, to sort of even out the peppermint cremes… and all the cheese.

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Merry Christmas + {this week on s&h..}

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Wishing you all a happy, peaceful and merry Christmas this week!

I hope that, by now, you are all somewhere cozy by a fire surrounded by your favorite people, animals, and treats.

I’m getting things ready for Christmas dinner and singing along to carols and waiting for Meet Me in St Louis – my favorite holiday movie – to start on TCM. And then Christmas in Connecticut!

Now is a good time to indulge, reflect, and forgive.

And if you are still stuck for ideas for holiday snacks, this post has you covered. And if you’re up for making delightful mini mince pies… lots of people will thank you!

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I’m pretty sure that we’re not waiting until Christmas Day to eat the bûche de Noël.

And tonight we are making a buckwheat, mushroom, and quince stuffed big bird chicken with a quince glaze (I’m all about the quinces this season), a brie baked with cranberries, some twice baked sweet potatoes with chives and sour cream, an arugula and grapefruit salad, and these Russian rum ball-style sweets (known as kartoshka).

Happy celebrating (…and happy eating!) – I’m toasting you with my hot chocolate!

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Quatre quarts pumpkin cake with cinnamon icing

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It seems to be that time of year when it’s hard to step away from the oven.

It’s a lot of fun, but you always want to have some simple and quick recipes up your sleeve for entertaining friends and family who may be in town for the holidays.

That’s where the quatre quarts cake come in – it’s a classic French pound cake that uses four ingredients in equal (1/4) weight proportion.

For example, when using 3 standard eggs in a recipe such as here, weigh them using a kitchen scale. They should weigh about 6 oz altogether, giving you the base weight for the rest of your ingredients: flour, sugar, and oil/butter. I have converted these into cups in the recipe below, for ease, but now you know the basic trick!

The quatre quarts has endless variations, giving you a base to make a loaf or cake with added fruit or nuts or other seasoning flavorings.

My house is still not over the pumpkin ‘thing’ that has been such a large part of this festive season, so this is a pumpkin spice cake variation with the most delicious cinnamon-vanilla icing.

Pumpkin cake with cinnamon-vanilla icing

You’ll need

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 cup spelt flour (you can substitute whole wheat)
  • 2 T softened butter
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (a bland and sweet variety)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup raw cane sugar
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 t nutmeg
  • pinch of kosher salt

for icing:

  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 T heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Butter a cake pan or line it carefully with parchment.

2. Melt the butter and whisk together vigorously with oil, eggs, and sugar. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients first, then add them to the rest of the batter.

3. Pour batter into the cake pan (it will be fairly thick) and smooth out the top with a knife.

4. Bake for approximately 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool slightly before turning it out and icing.

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5. To make the icing, simply whisk together the confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and heavy cream. If the icing is too thick, add a little bit more cream.

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The icing will have attractive little flecks from the vanilla and cinnamon.

Notes: This a bit of a ‘wetter’ pound cake with the addition of the pumpkin puree, but because you’re baking it thinner than you would in a loaf pan, it still cooks through in about the same time.

Enjoy the cake with tea or coffee; it will keep well for a few days covered and at room temperature.

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