Category Archives: grains

A VALENTINE’S RECAP

For Valentine’s Day this year, we teamed up with some of our sweetest friends for a meal inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty. From the book there was Yotam’s bulghur wheat and roasted peppers salad; cauliflower with raisins; and eggplant spread dressed with pomegranate seeds. There was also a puntarelle salad dressed in lemon; the most delicious green olives packed lightly in oil and orange zest; purple potatoes, chorizo, fennel, and crispy sage; oh and a pair of chickens from Rotisserie Portugalia, too.

I’m glad I was able to sneak in some healthy eating before the decadence of Montreal en Lumiere completely took over my life! (Haha, who am I kidding: at this Valentine’s dinner there was also foie gras in a can, pulled pork, and biscuits!) But really, I’ve been eating like a fat king all week long, but when it comes to a feast, this is the kind of food I would want, every time.

Towards the end of the meal, Katherine lit a delicate lover’s candle — two candles, two wicks, in an embrace. It was a lovely close to one of the best Valentine’s of recent memory.

MAKING COUSCOUS, SASHA-STYLE

The night of Sound + Season, Sasha made a huge bowl of couscous, which she fluffed with her fingers. The couscous was studded with plump currants, orange zest, orange blossom water, shaved almonds, and chopped black olives cured in oil. It was delicious. I’m weirdly terrible at making couscous, it always clumps together and gets sticky. Hers was perfect, so light and fluffy and dry.

AT HOME WITH SASH

Since my Acquired Taste story about Sasha isn’t available online, I thought I would post some of the photos I took when I visited her last summer. I have so many, I kind of want to share them all.

It was really humid that day, the kind where staying inside is almost unbearable. Being in a hot kitchen, even worse. Typical upstate New York summer, it rained on and off all afternoon, but we took every opportunity to escape outside to her backyard for wine or to go on walks.

I love writing about my best friends. It’s happening more and more, almost emerging as a pattern, which made me realize how fascinating and talented and smart my loved ones really are. I’ve long admired Sasha’s intuitive and thoughtful cooking style, yet I had never really watched her “in action.” (Whenever I would arrive at her house for dinner parties, everything would already be ready to go!)

More photos to come….

BARLEY LOVE

Woah woah woah. It hasn’t ACTUALLY been almost a week since I last posted, has it? I thought winter was supposed to be a time of mellowness, introversion, and regrouping, so can someone please tell me what happened?

Without a lot of time on my hands to fuss over daytime meals, I’ve been eating a lot of “stir-fried” barley lately. Barley takes a little longer to cook than pasta but has a very satisfying chewiness and keeps me full forever. And barley is supposed to be good for you, right? Anyway, lunchtime usually goes something like this: empty the contents of my fridge (in this case, half a bell pepper, a third of a fennel bulb, a handful of mushrooms, one shallot, some garlic, and half a purple carrot), chop everything into same-ish sized pieces, pour lots of olive oil in a pan, and fry everything together until golden and caramelized. The barley gets added at the last second, as does the juice of a lemon, some apple cider vinegar, and some torn basil. Super, super comforting and crazy delicious.

MEETING OF THE MINDS

When Adam met up with me in Ithaca for Meredith’s wedding, it was his first time meeting all of my friends. Ever. Which is crazy, I know.

So, to commemorate the occasion, the evening he was to arrive, I schemed to organize a fête both special and low-key.

At first, I thought about organizing our gang to feast at our favorite Trumansburg restaurant. I even made a reservation.

But I quickly realized that what I really wanted was a simple dinner party, thrown in Adam’s honor, at my friend Katie’s cozy country home.

It was barely a party, really more of a garden supper, but it felt perfectly full of laughter and love. Curious what we ate?

Since there are no photos (blame the wine), here’s the menu, instead:

Assorted Piggery charcuterie (including a ham hock terrine that disintegrated in the upstate New York heat) // Spanish cheeses + olives

Homemade quick pickles // beets, red onions, local green beans, and carrots

Quartered Ithaca heirloom tomatoes served over barley // red wine vinaigrette

Crispy potato croquettes (I loosely followed this wonderful recipe) // homemade crème fraîche // chives // lemon wedges

Thick ribbons of pasta tossed with fresh ricotta // lemon // local corn // watercress // torn basil

Halved local Methley plums + honey served over thyme-flecked Sable Breton // so much more of that dangerous crème fraîche

That was it. Simple and sweet and buttery. And, upon reflection, a lot of carbs!

As a final note, I can’t recommend this simple Sable Breton recipe enough. The confetti of thyme in the dough really send this not-at-all-sweet dessert completely over the top. Make it for the person in your life who professes not to like dessert. They’ll love it.

In conclusion, if someone offers you up their gorgeous backyard to host a tiny, elegant dinner party — don’t turn their offer down.

And if someone offers to hang petite twinkling lights, set a table with their most beautifully mismatched linens, buy you a vase of scarlet flowers, and even hook up a sound system that may or may not lead to a protracted discussion of the band The Archies, definitely don’t turn their offer down.

And even if you can’t find a bottle of Fontsainte Gris de Gris from Corbieres at Red Feet, no worries. Pop open a bottle of Dr. Frank’s perfectly delicious dry reisling and sit down. It’s summertime, and you are with your favorite people in the world.

RICE VENTURES

[Broiled marlin with leeks in white wine; sauteed mushrooms with basil salad; black rice with lime juice and black pepper]

My boyfriend recently brought home a gorgeous pink filet of fresh marlin, and while we wondered how we were going to cook it, I rooted through our pantry to find a proper grain. Not quite desiring our usual staples — quinoa, couscous, pasta, or even some fresh bread — I fished out a dusty glass jar filled with black grains of rice.

What the hell is this?” I asked.

I grew up eating Chinese-style rice — white Jasmine rice, steamed until fluffy — and the kind of hippie-friendly, expensive wild rices that you see in every health food store today were completely foreign to me as a kid. Later, as I grew older, I discovered that rice could, in fact, be enjoyed in a million different ways. (At the moment, my favorite way to eat rice is like this).

This black Ontario rice was a piece of cake to make because it simmered with the top off, and with constant stirring, so there was no potential for sticking or burning. The finished grains emerged glossy, firm, and with a pleasant, nutty hardness in the mouth. The rice was even better the next day, so I stir-fried it with some kale, lemon, hot sauce, and cracked black pepper.

What’s your favorite unusual rice grain? I want to try them all now!