On the fifth day of Thanksgiving, bring the turkey stock that wouldn’t fit into the ice cube tray to a simmer. Pick the bread out of your leftover stuffing and add what remains to the pot (cremini mushrooms, Italian sausage, fennel and leeks in this case). Add a few sliced carrots. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes. Roughly chop and add the remaining turkey meat. Add a big bunch of swiss chard. Proceed to eat this for the next three days, noting that you really just kicked the leftover can a little further down the road. But hey, at least you worked a little fiber into the equation.
My friend Sara is on vacation in Maine this week, which means that I picked up a double CSA share Tuesday night. Hauling this quantity of vegetables plus two melons, goat yogurt, honey, eggs, granola, and a few pounds of assorted meat is no joke. It took me a good 30 minutes just to organize my refrigerator.
Between the tomatoes, onions, green pepper, cucumbers and fresh basil, it was clear what had to be done.
Farmer Ted’s Gazpacho
- 5 large tomatoes, cored and quartered
- 1/2 bulb fennel, cored and chopped
- 1 large green pepper, cored and chopped
- 1 large cucumber, seeded and sliced
- 1 medium white onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and sliced
- 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
- 3 tablespoons or so sherry vinegar
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup packed fresh herbs (I used basil, Italian parsley and fennel fronds, because that’s what I had on hand.)
Add the tomatoes to the large bowl of a food processor and run until you have a slightly chunky tomato sauce. Add the rest of the vegetables, oil and vinegar and a good dose of salt and pepper. Run until any large chunks are gone. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional vinegar, salt and/or pepper. You can also add a pinch of sugar or a few dashes of hot sauce to balance the flavors. Add the herbs and run for about a minute more. Refrigerate for at least a few hours to allow flavors to meld.
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 tablespoon hot paprika
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients and let sit in refrigerator for at least an hour.
The rest of this dish takes about 20 minutes to complete, so feel free to knock off for a while and grab a nap. You deserve it. (And, if you’re honest with yourself, last night’s margaritas demand it.)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 slices baguette
Bring a large cast iron skillet up to medium-low heat and swirl with the olive oil. Place bread in skillet and let sit until the bottom side is crisp and just a bit browned. Flip and repeat.
Calamari a la Plancha
- 1 pound cleaned and sliced calamari, drained and patted dry
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, pressed
- salt and pepper
- juice of 1/2 lemon
Return the skillet to the stove over medium heat. Toss the calamari with oil, Aleppo pepper, garlic, salt and pepper. Add to skillet, cook for one minute, stir and flip pieces and cook for one more minute. Remove from heat and dress with lemon.
At this point, you are ready to plate. Pour the gazpacho into bowls and nestle the calamari in the center of each. Spread the aioli onto your crostini and strategically place alongside the calamari.
Sean and I ate our supper on the roof while sipping a crisp Sauvignon Blanc and admiring the pink and orange sunset–which, now that I think about it, evoked the warm hues of our gazpacho with calamari a la plancha and paprika-aioli crostini. For dessert, we managed to polish off a whole, perfectly ripe melon with some lovely serrano ham I’d picked up earlier in the day at BKLYN Larder. A couple of hours later we trekked down four flights of stairs, walked past a handful of buildings, climbed another four flights and joined friends on a nearby rooftop for one last round of drinks before calling it a night. God, I love summer.
This isn’t so much a recipe as a concept–one that employs the summer’s bounty and yields a nice supper, brunch for two, and an afternoon snack, all with minimal effort.
Make Ahead: 1) Crank the oven up to 400 and chop up whatever summer vegetables you have on hand. I used zucchini, yellow squash, fairy tale eggplant, and the roots and bulb of a bunch of baby fennel (which, YUM). 2) Toss the vegetables with a good quantity of olive oil, salt and pepper in a large roasting pan and pop it in the oven. 3) Let cook until you start to smell something really good. Give the vegetables a good stir and return to the oven until they are soft and nicely browned. This can be done a day ahead of time.
For Dinner: 1) sauté onion, garlic and red pepper flakes in some olive oil. 2) Add some chopped fresh tomato and cook just briefly before adding some of your roasted vegetables. 3) Stir in some freshly boiled al dente pasta, allowing a little of the pasta water to form a loose sauce. (I was feeding a friend who avoids gluten, so I went with a brown rice pasta, which was surprisingly tasty and toothsome.) 4) Cook for a minute or so, remove from heat, and toss with some fresh basil. 5) Serve with a nice dollop of ricotta cheese.
For Brunch the Next Day: 1) Set the oven to 400 and repeat steps one and two above, adding in all of your leftover roasted vegetables and substituting a fresh jalapeño for the red pepper flakes if you happen to have one on hand. 2) Stir in some fresh basil. 3) Reserve about a third of the mixture and spoon the rest into individual baking dishes, forming a hollow in the center. Crack a couple of eggs into each dish and pop into the oven until the eggs are just set.
For an Afternoon Snack: 1) Toast some nice bread in a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat. 2) Top with the last of your ratatouille.
And that, my friends, is how you consume two zucchini, two yellow squash, a large bunch of baby fennel, half a pound of eggplant, three onions, a head of garlic, a bouquet of purple basil, and one jalapeño pepper in 24 hours.
While en papilotte sounds fancy, it’s actually a great trick for crafting a quick and delicious meal for one (or more) with minimal mess. All you need is some parchment paper or, in a pinch, aluminum foil. Not being much of a baker, I’ve had the same box of parchment sitting in a kitchen drawer for years, ready for deployment on nights like tonight.
I spent the first half of my Monday frantically pulling together materials in preparation for an evening board meeting that was ultimately canceled. And so I find myself with an unexpectedly free night and a serious desire for solitude. On the way home I picked up a piece of salmon and some asparagus (hallelujah for green vegetables) to go with the ramps and fennel waiting in my refrigerator.
Salmon, Asparagus, Fennel & Ramps En Papillote
- 1/2 fennel bulb
- 8-10 asparagus stalks
- 3 ramps (or some thinly sliced shallots)
- 6-ounce salmon filet
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt (ideally whole milk)
- splash of white wine
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- salt and pepper
- Pop a large cast iron skillet (or a baking sheet or dish of some sort) into the oven and set it to 400. Turn on the radio, strip off your work drag, pop open that bottle of Orvieto left by a dinner guest with excellent taste and pour yourself a glass.
- Lay a large piece of parchment on the kitchen counter. Rinse the fennel and then remove the stalks, reserving and finely chopping the fronds. Halve the bulb, core one half and then slice it as thinly as possible. Toss the sliced fennel onto one half of your parchment and pop the unsliced half into the fridge for a future use. Snap the woody ends off of the asparagus and layer the stalks on top of the fennel. Rinse the ramps, trim off the very tip, slice them in half lengthwise and lay them on top of the asparagus. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and lemon zest. While pouring yourself a second glass of wine, give the vegetables a little splash.
- Rinse the salmon, feeling for and removing any remaining bones, and pat dry. Place the fish on top of the vegetables and add more salt, pepper and lemon zest. Spoon the yogurt on top and garnish with the fennel fronds and more lemon zest.
- Fold the parchment in half and begin folding the two halves together, making tight creases with your thumbnail as you would origami, until you are satisfied that it is reasonably airtight. Set this in the oven in your preheated pan and go about your business.
- After 17 minutes, pull the pan out of the oven. If you did a good job of folding, the paper will have puffed up. Tear this open like you would a present at your fifth birthday party and behold your dinner, swathed in headily scented steam.
This is a comically simple but deeply satisfying dish. At the end of it all, you are left with a cutting board to wipe down; a chef’s knife, microplane, dinner plate, knife, fork and spoon to wash; and another glass of wine to pour. Can somebody please remind me of this the next time I decide to host a dinner party for eight?
I’ve been battling a cold for the past couple of weeks. Tonight I made the difficult decision to skip a show to which I already had tickets. Instead, I came home and continued to work my way through the frozen soup collection I’ve been amassing.
On those winter days when it’s too cold to think about going out, I spend my time cooking up large batches of soup using whatever I have on hand. I eat it for as many meals as I can stand and freeze the rest. The plastic pint containers that you get when ordering takeout or buying olives are perfect for a single serving. The key here is to be diligent about labeling each container with the date and the contents.
Tonight’s freezer exploration turned up a particularly tasty soup that I made back in January. I had hosted a cocktail party at which I served bagna cauda, a dip of butter and/or olive oil with garlic and anchovies. I like to add some red pepper flakes and parsley. You serve it warm (hence the translation: “hot bath”) with raw winter vegetables and hunks of bread for dunking. The bagna cauda paired brilliantly with both the Prosecco and the Negronis.
The next morning found me with a headache, sticky counters, and a bunch of leftover fennel, endive and cauliflower. The vegetables were beginning to brown where I had cut them. Delicate spinach intended for a salad was also begging to be consumed.
There are a few basic formulas for making soup. This one involves sweating the aromatics, adding the vegetables, gently simmering them in broth, and then pureeing the mixture. That’s it.
The absinthe was a last-minute addition that took the soup to a new level. Tonight it almost made me forget that I am missing Beth Ditto’s performance. Hopefully a cough syrup nightcap will finish the job.
- 3 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1 fennel bulb, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed
- 2 tsp fennel seed
- pinch cayenne
- pinch powdered ginger
- pinch nutmeg
- 2 cups chicken stock, 2 cups water
- ⅛ cup absinthe
- ½ head cauliflower
- 2 bunches spinach
- 1 head endive
- sherry vinegar
- lemon juice
- garnish with plain yogurt, fennel fronds, fennel pollen
- Melt the butter with the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the red onion and fennel and cook stirring frequently so that they do not brown.
- When the onion and fennel are soft and becoming translucent, add the garlic, fennel seed, cayenne, ginger and nutmeg. Cook stirring constantly for a minute or two.
- Add the chicken stock, water, endive and cauliflower and simmer gently until the cauliflower is soft. Add the spinach and absinthe and simmer for another 10 minutes – or maybe less. (You want the spinach to retain its bright green color.) Puree using an immersion blender or in batches in a food processor or traditional blender.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired with salt, pepper, sherry vinegar and/or lemon juice. Ladle each serving into a bowl and garnish with plain yogurt, fennel pollen and the fennel fronds.