Breakfast, Entrees, Recipes, Vegetarian

Fried Eggs with Crispy Kale and Ramps

We're nearing the end of the all-too-brief ramp season here on the East Coast.

So far, I've been trying to get the most out of ramp availability this spring. In April I taught two classes on Asian cooking using seasonal ingredients and managed to get a bunch of students addicted to these delicious wild leeks. We stuffed them into dumplings, used them in a lamb stir-fry, and even garnished cold sesame noodles with them.

At home, I've also tried to cook with ramps every chance I got, wherever and whenever I'd normally use scallions, garlic, onions, or shallots. But the quickest, easiest, and by far most comforting dish is fried eggs.

Entrees, Recipes, Vegetarian

Easy Kale and Quinoa Pilaf

I thought that I had gotten through the cold-weather season without catching the flu. Or any of the bad viruses that were going around. After all, I was prepared: I had drank a ridiculous amount of orange juice and eaten yogurt everyday. Then recently, during a stressful work period, I stopped consuming the oj and yogurt, slept too little, and boom!  I got sick. Really really sick.

And I got every single symptom under the sun (I'll spare you the details.) For over a week, even getting myself up from bed has been a challenge. I'd try to do work but would find myself a short time later on the couch, shivering and wrapped up in a blanket. And I ordered too much takeout food. Soup, banh mi, noodles. I tried to go as healthy as I could, but pretty soon, I just got sick of the sodium, heavy sauces, and spending too much $$$ for subpar food. 

Appetizers, French, Recipes, Vegetarian

Provencal Chickpea Dip

When you’re gearing up for the launch of your first cookbook, and trying to work on two blogs while planning a book launch party, weekdays can get a bit hectic. Sit-down lunches start becoming a luxury. Heck, lunch becomes a luxury. Or at least, lunch that doesn’t involve grabbing a slice of pizza on the go.

Last week, after lecturing to myself that I really did need something healthier, I decided to whip up a batch of Provencal chickpea dip  that could last for several days. And pair it with olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and pita bread, everything that could be picked up quickly from the neighborhood market. This super easy recipe comes from Anne Willan’s wonderful and beautifully photographed The Country Cooking of FrancePoischichade is a Provencal version of hummus and baba ganoush, and has an intense smoky flavor from the roasted red peppers and ground cumin.

Recipes, Vegetarian

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries and Apples

Happy Thanksgiving week!

It seems like everyone I’ve talked to is just eager to finish up work before taking the rest of the week off. I’ve also been running around doing errands and tying up loose ends with work before the Thanksgiving cooking madness begins. This year I’m visiting a close college friend in Nashville, and she has tasked me with helping her plan the big turkey day feast.

There are some picky eaters in the group, so menu planning is a little tricky, but fortunately we seem to all agree on brussels sprouts. Which is a good thing, because brussels sprouts gets a bad rap from many people who were used to eating them steamed or boiled to mush when they were children, and as adults still have a prejudice against them. I grew up in a Chinese family, so I was spared from eating mushy brussels sprouts as a kid. So when I tried them for the first time in my 20s at a restaurant, roasted with beautiful crispy leaves, I was instantly hooked.

Breakfast, Recipes, Vegetarian

Homemade Coconut Granola

When it comes to breakfast, I'm a creature of habit. Well, for a short period of time, anyway. I go through periods in which I would eat the same thing every single morning for 3 to 4 months: oatmeal with dried cranberries, toast with raspberry preserves, almond croissants, Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds, Barbara's Puffins. And then move on to the next thing for 3 to 4 months.

My most recent breakfast habit has consisted of combining vanilla yogurt with granola from the Park Slope Co-op. I've tried a lot of their granolas from the bulk bins, mostly settling a very minimalist one with lightly crispy oat clusters and dried blueberries. But then I started seeing a whole bunch of homemade granola recipes on Pinterest. (My fellow food bloggers are very inspiring!) So I decided to try my hand at making granola from scratch.

Appetizers, Recipes, Salads, Vegetarian

Greek Kale Salad

July is the time of year when I go in for my yearly physical. This year, the results came back fine and dandy as usual, except for one tiny thing — I have a slight iron deficiency. Of course, that's very minor in the spectrum of problems a doctor can phone you about, but it's also a little crushing to not get the same  "everything looks great! keep doing what you're doing!" remark from years past.

"Eat more lean red meat," I was told. "Or more dark leafy greens."

It's great to have a legitimate excuse to go find out and find a nice juicy steak or burger, stat! But really, I definitely would not be able to keep doing that every day to meet my iron requirement. This is where the kale comes in.

Recipes, Soup, Vegetarian

Greek Lentil Soup

Even though the weather has been getting warmer lately, there are still days when I crave a nice bowl of lentil soup for lunch. Especially if it’s a lentil soup that conjures up the Mediterranean sun and the seaside.

This Greek lentil soup (Faki) comes from The Essential New York Times Cookbook, which has a recipe revised from one that reader and Greek cookbook author Vilma Liacouras had sent in to the paper in 1977. I don’t think I had ever tried lentil soup Greek-style before, but wow, am I hooked now. It may become my go-to lentil soup. In the beginning of the cooking process, it may seem like your ordinary tomato-lentil soup, but the magic comes towards the end. You toss in plenty of parsley, mint, and basil. Then you stir in a generous amount of good olive oil. And finally, you add some red wine vinegar; that extra bit of acidity really brings the lentils to a whole new level.

Recipes, Vegetarian

Deviled Mushrooms

We’ve all seen deviled eggs countless times before, but what about deviled mushrooms? My first encounter was in James Beard’s American Cookery, that wonderful trove of American recipes that date back to when the U.S. was a wee infant. Though the practice of adding hot spices to eggs appears to date back to Ancient Rome, the term “deviled” came into common usage in the US in the late 1700s to early 1800s to refer to any spicy dish.

The index of American Cookery shows a couple handfuls of recipes for foods we used to devil often, including crab, scallops, beef bones, and veal kidneys. They all used either cayenne or Tabasco for flavoring. I ended up making the mushrooms, with a bit less oil and a bit more Tabasco than the recipe calls for; what was considered spicy generations ago is considered mild now.