Categories
Recipes

Roasted Carrot Finger Sandwiches

Roasted Carrot Finger Sandwiches - anneliesz

I’m psyching myself into making this year the best! year! ever! And, yet. In the first week of the New Year, a dear friend of mine called late enough one evening that her name flashing on my phone was foreboding. We’ve been swapping texts, doctor diagnoses, and the emojis that speak into the places we don’t want to go for several days. It’s day six of the New Year. (Update: good news! She’s in the clear.)

A neighbor wrestles with the ever-real possibility that her landlord will attempt to evict her. I’ve been feeding her, shuttling over an extra smoothie, extra tagine, extra food as if somehow giving food will figure out the future that can seem awfully untenable at times.

Roasted Carrot Finger Sandwiches - anneliesz

Today, I spoke with a woman representing Amnesty International and we had a candid conversation about the travesty that’s been going on in Syria for far too long and that doesn’t always make front page news. Some problems seem so big and can make us feel so small.

Here’s the thing, I tend to be an optimistic realist. And, I’m of the mind usually that we have to choose the positive in a situation for our own well-being. But sometimes, it’s equally as important to get dirty, go down in the trenches of life with someone else who is languishing. Equally as important, laughing with those who laugh and celebrating those who are succeeding.

One of my favorite things about tea (and there are many) is the notion that the act of brewing tea forcibly slows us down in a world that’s all go-go-go. If I make a resolution in 2017, it’s one that started late last fall when a rumbling for change reverberated through me, and a desire to let this idea take root: to make time for the people in my life is to water the stuff that makes life good. I awaken thinking of my friend, the hospital- my neighbor, the shelter in question- my smallness, the big problem- and they become smoke, an offering, a prayer.

Roasted Carrot Finger Sandwiches - anneliesz

Roasted Carrot Finger Sandwiches

MAKES 10

5 medium carrots, peeled
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 leek, whites only, rinsed and halved
1/2 block cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon creme fraiche
7 Castelvetrano green olives, pitted
1 teaspoon capers
1 teaspoon caper juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves
1 1-inch long lemon zest peel
10 slices honey wheat sandwich bread, crusts cut off
2 radicchio leaves, cut into 10 small pieces

Preheat the oven to 375. Line a roasting pan with parchment paper. Slice the carrots into 3 sections. Cut 1/4-inch planks from each section. Toss the carrots in the olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Place the carrots on the lined roasting pan. Pat the leek halves dry. Rub the leek halves in the remaining oil coating the carrot bowl. Place the leek segments onto the roasting pan– if you need a second pan, line one up and go for it– you want to make sure the carrots and leeks have room to roast. Roast for 25 minutes or until the carrots are fork tender and the leeks are golden brown. Cool the carrots. Toss the leeks, cream cheese, creme fraiche, olives, capers, caper juice, black pepper, remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, cilantro, and lemon zest into a food processor. Pulse until mostly smooth with a hint of chunkiness. Slice each bread slice into long fingers. Coat one finger with one tablespoon of the olive leek spread. Lay a slender slice of radicchio on the leek olive spread. Tile carrots on top. Complete the sandwich with another finger of bread and serve.

 

PS- I love make-ahead recipes. If you do too, roast the carrots and make the spread the day before. Assemble them right before serving.

PPS- Wondering what to do with the bread crusts? Feed them to ducks. Toast them and make Toast Croutons. Or, use the toasted crusts and blitz them into tiny crumbs to use in meatballs, meatloaf, or atop mac and cheese (they’d be good especially tossed with some butter and chopped herbs).

Roasted Carrot Finger Sandwiches - anneliesz

Categories
Recipes

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Tortilla Espanola

Baked Tortilla Espanola with Sungold Tomato Salsa

So you might be scratching your head and holding up two words, weighing them to see if they might possibly even each other out, “lemons, tortilla espanola?” I know. It perplexed me too. What happens when you unwittingly walk away from a rather impromptu visit to Sacramento with three ginormous Meyer lemons in tow? You make lemon curd, naturally. Then, if you’re like me, you begin plotting other uses for the gelatinous goo of egg whites filling a pint glass and mocking you from the inside of the refrigerator. They taunt, “Don’t make us into meringues again?!” And this time, you listen to them.

On a Monday night, you fire up the oven amid the sound of silent castanets cracking overhead, fingers clicking one egg, then two into the growing egg goo. Before long, the Espanola is in sight. Reason number 876 to be happy living in California might just have to be ripe tomatoes in November. They may not be the stellar outcroppings of September, but really, my farmer’s market still stocks strawberries like it’s the peak of summer. So, you have to make the most of these gifts from the heavens. You roast squash and root vegetables like the rest of the country but you silently give thanks as you pop a sungold tomato, its flavor sweet like the last summer sunset.

Then you break out of your reverie and scamper about throwing together an easy meal for a Monday night like this Baked Tortilla Espanola. Trust me, no turkeys, cranberries or stuffing cubes have been harmed in making this dish. There will be time enough for all of that soon enough. Instead, the leeks scent the olive oil and the boiling water takes the edge off the potatoes. All those egg whites find their own rhythm, and the slippery sauteed leeks blend their way into a sweeter sungold tomato salsa. Cut into a slice with a fork and you too may be hearing the call of the castanet.

Baked Tortilla Espanola with Sungold Tomato Salsa

BAKED TORTILLA ESPANOLA WITH SUNGOLD TOMATO SALSA

For this recipe, you want to use a heavy bottomed pan that can go from stovetop to oven. If you have leftover salsa, spoon it onto a baked sweet potato or serve with crudités. Feeling spunky? Drizzle it onto exotic nachos laced with red pepper hummus, white cheddar, fennel pollen flecked goat cheese and creme fraiche. 

YIELD: 4-6 portions

INGREDIENTS
For the Tortilla

  • 1 pound small potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cup sliced leek, white part only (4 1/4 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

For the Salsa

  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 1/4 cup sungold cherry tomatoes (7 ounces)
  • splash of hot sauce
  • pinch of smoked paprika
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • crack of black pepper

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Make the Tortilla
Preheat the oven to 350.

Rinse and scrub the potatoes. Slice them thinly into 1/4 inch rounds. Bring a pot 3/4 full of water to a soft rolling boil. Place the potato rounds into the water for 4-5 minutes to take off some of their crunch. Drain them in a colander.

Place a heavy bottomed pan over medium low heat for 1 minute. Swirl in the olive oil and add the leeks. Cook for 4 minutes or until the leeks are translucent. Strain leeks out of the oil and reserve.

Place potato rounds into the oil and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile whisk together 2 eggs with the 6 egg whites and add in the salt and pepper. Pour whisked eggs evenly over the potatoes and cook on the stovetop for 2 minutes to set them. Then transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until the eggs are cooked though and don’t jiggle when you jostle the pan. Cool for five minutes.

Make the Salsa
Drizzle the vingear into the receptacle of a blender. Spoon the sautéed leeks on top and then add in the rinsed sungold tomatoes. Puree until almost smooth- a bit of chunkiness is inviting in salsa. Stir in the hot sauce, paprika, salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce in a circle on each plate.

Plate the Tortilla and Salsa
Slide a spatula around the edge of the pan several times carefully, helping loosen the tortilla from the sides. Once the edges have pulled away a bit, slip the spatula under the tortilla to begin carefully loosening it from the bottom of the pan. Bring a large plate to the top of the pan and invert the pan onto the plate so that the tortilla transitions from the pan to the plate. Cut a slice of the tortilla to serve on top of the salsa.

Categories
Recipes

Bok Choy Soup with Avocado Crema

Bok Choy Celeriac Soup

I would be remiss if I didn’t say that my current obsession with celeriac knows no bounds. Celery root is mellow in its celery flavor and is great roasted with sea salt.

In the past few weeks we’ve tossed it into salads , tried it braised letting it soak up the juices of the other ingredients as well as impart its distinctive flavor into them and played with working it into soup… This soup layers green upon green blending the mellow celery flavor of roasted celeriac with the sauteed greens of bok choy, a hint of ginger and the toasted pistachio meal for something quite special.

You will note that I don’t recommend salting the soup and that is purely for preference. If you want to add salt to the soup to taste, go for it. I included the generous pinch of salt in the avocado crema knowing it would suffuse its slight saltiness to the rest of the soup and avocado for me comes alive after a hit of salt. Have you ever tried avocado with a pinch of salt, smeared on fresh baguette? With sliced tomatoes, it is a meal of much hullabaloo. But I digress…

Topped with a bright dollop of avocado crema, you might find, like we did, that this soup makes a tasty accomplice to an egg frittata or baked ricotta casserole.

SOUP RECIPES- Bok Choy Celeriac Soup with Avocado Crema

 

[print_this]

BOK CHOY SOUP WITH AVOCADO CREMA 

SOUP

  • 6 Bok Choy, coarsely chopped
  • 2 leeks, coarsely shopped
  • 1 medium celery root, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (plus 1 teaspoon for roasting pepper)
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pistachios
CREMA
  • 4 tablespoons plain goat’s milk yogurt
  • 1 avocado
  • a generous pinch of salt

 

1. Preheat oven to 425F.

2. Place celery root and whole green bell pepper on roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes.

3. Saute ginger, leeks and garlic over medium low heat for 3 minutes in 2 tablespoons of oil.

4. Add bok choy to pot and stir in. Stir for five minutes as bok choy cooks down. Add chicken stock. Set to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

5. Remove pepper from the oven and remove the skin, seeds and stem.

6. Chop the pepper into strips and add to pot along with adding the celery root to the pot once done.

7. Pulverize pistachios into meal. Then add the pistachio meal to the pot and stir in.

8. Puree in small batches in a blender until smooth or use an immersion blender in the pot and puree until smooth.

9. For the avocado crema, mash the chopped avocado with the yogurt together and add salt. I like this a bit chunky, so mash until the avocado is slightly broken up.

10. Serve soup with a dollop of avocado crema.

 

[/print_this]

 

Categories
Recipes

Leek Goat Cheese Quiche

BRUNCH RECIPES- Leek and Goat Cheese Quiche

Sometimes you need a quickie brunch recipe. (or easy lunch // dinner // snack… recipe.)

As a child I never understood brunch. Why condense two meals into one? In my mind, it seemed to be something only adults really could appreciate like Nick at Night.

The three women in my life growing up sure know how to entertain and this carries over to their quick breakfast interpretations. Tia Berta is the gourmande, whereas my mama makes simple food delicioso. And then Tia Maruca is a bit of both.

I come from a long line of women with a passion for flavor in the blood. We memorize and assign value to pairings like other people might with place. Reading through their recipe books is taking a peek through history, notes of the who’s and whens, the revisions and raves.

I look at my cousin Erika, now in her thirties and realize we have both followed in their footsteps. She takes after her mama and I’m a bit of a blend. Regardless in our homes, food is love or more appropriately nourishing the people we love is our gift.

They have taught me how to live and in so doing have shown me what love looks like firsthand, whether it’s making a multi-course meal for my parents first meeting of my soon-to-be in-laws, whether it’s giving up the master bedroom when guests stay at the house so they’ll be most comfortable or lying with my uncle in his hospital bed, holding his hand and talking to him when he couldn’t open his eyes- come to think of it, all the women are steel-clad strong. I appreciate their nuances and continued presence. When my dad died, each of them pitched in to make sense of what felt very senseless to me. Before I knew the question to ask, they provided the answers by giving me space, by not giving me too much space, by letting me ask the hard questions.

A few weeks ago, I got a call that my favorite uncle, Tio Bibi had been taken into the hospital. As the texts continued coming my way, I prayed and sent virtual hugs until the day I hopped on a red-eye to Texas and could give physical ones. Upon entering the hospital room, I watched and listened. I told Tio Bibi I had come to visit him and asked, “Can I hold your hand?” He offered it. Jacqueline and I talked to him and sat with him. Later his son brought music to the room: Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, and of course, Little Richard. Though he couldn’t open his eyes most of the time, his legs and arms gesticulated as if dancing. His younger brother stood at the side of the hospital bed and started singing “Ree-kee-kee-kee-kee…” and they told jokes with Tio Bibi sometimes finishing them.

The next time I visited the hospital room, the mood had changed. I wore a mask, as I had begun to sense a cold seeping its way through my body and I wanted to spend a little more time with him before returning to San Francisco. His son and I sat with him in the room, quietly. We wanted to bring him company and comfort. At one point, we moved him up on his bed to a more comfortable position. I would be lying if I didn’t say it was hard to see him like this. And I wanted to love him, to let him know I was there, to let them know I was there. So through the mask, I breathed and sat until the time approached for us to go to the airport. As I left, I told him I would see him later. And even now as I write this, two days after he has passed away, he is with me. See, Saturday night, I dreamed my Tio Bibi, Erika and I were dancing at my wedding. He was smiling his broad smile and laughing- he shared that joy and zest for living with all of us. It gave me such a bittersweet tug to know my Dad and Erika’s dad are together. It makes me wonder if they remember each other…

Quiche is so forgiving. This savory pie is a snap to put together, makes your house smell warm and inviting (the alchemy aroma of butter and flour together alone could conjure up a bakery and the glass case beaming its egg-shellacked offerings) and sometimes you need something that’s good-old fashioned comfort in a crust.

leeks

chopped leeks

leek and goat cheese quiche

[print_this]

Leek Goat Cheese Quiche

Note: This quiche to me tastes better cold and can be made into mini quiches for easier transport.

YIELD: 8 servings

  • Gluten Free Pastry dough (see recipe below)
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup half and half
  • 1 ½ leeks, halved, rinsed and sliced (white & tender greens)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 ounce goat cheese
  • ¼ teaspoons cracks of black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoons nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Pour the oil in a saucepan and add the leeks. Saute the leeks over medium heat until almost translucent. Set aside.

Beat eggs and then add in all remaining ingredients. Blend until just mixed together. Fill pie crust. Bake for 45 minutes and let cool for 10.

 

GLUTEN-FREE SAVORY PASTRY DOUGH
Adapted from Joy of Cooking

For a 9-inch single-crust pie, sift together:

  • 1 ¼ cup gluten free AP flour (I used Cup4Cup)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt

Add:

  • 6 tablespoons chilled lard or vegetable shortening
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

Work half of the shortening into the flour mixture lightly using the tips of your fingers until it has become the consistency of cornmeal. Add the remaining half of the shortening into the dough until it is pea-sized. Sprinkle the dough with

  • 6 tablespoons ice water

Blend the water gently into the dough until it just holds together; you may lift the ingredients with a fork, allowing the moisture to spread. If necessary to hold the ingredients together, add:

  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon ice water

Place dough in pie tin or pie pan, and work dough into the corners with your fingers. I also beat an egg yolk and brushed the crust with this. Place in refrigerator for 15 minutes to 30 minutes before using.

[/print_this]

Categories
Recipes

Cassoulet

SOUP RECIPES- CassouletFresh back from the honeymoon, I would love to say we filled the kitchen with cinnamon and butter and sugar emanating from a hot oven. Our lives were as they had been a la honeymoon equal parts tense and excited at the possibilities ahead. No, I’m not referring to the early days of marriage but instead whether or not our San Francisco Giants would win the National League pennant. We meandered into neighborhood pubs and pizza joints yukking it up with other fans. On a particular rainy Saturday evening, we shared a booth facing a flat screen TV, watching pitchers get swapped out and batters foul. Over tapas and organic beer, we cheered and cowered, the digestive juices roiling in a perpetual state of uncertainty. But it was made less bitter and more sweet with slivers of flatbread festooned with shaved jamon Serrano and black mission figs with manchego cheese. That night, victory tasted sweet.

So our first “official” dinner looks something like this. I enter the apartment with its cheery smells of caramelized onions and a big smile spread wide across Nathan’s face. He’s begun chopping celery and carrots for a cassoulet I’ve been jonesing to make except it’s not the cassoulet and so no big surprise, it takes on a life of its own. We chop on different counters yet somehow at one point, all of his knives are on my cutting board as I’m paring the garlic. Hmm. The stew that resulted from our kitchen antics cut the chill of this October San Francisco evening. Think of it as South meets North or France meets a bit of Spain. Thus, this tasty concoction is a bit of a hot mess, but a tasty one nonetheless.

 

[print_this]

Cassoulet

YIELD: 4-6 servings

  • 3 celery ribs, halved & then cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 leeks, halved & then cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 carrots, halved & then cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 T fines herbes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a good grinding of black pepper
  • 1 8 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 8 oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 pieces smoked bacon, split down the middle & then cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 dried Black Mission figs, quartered
  • toasted bread crumbs of Country Levain* (see below)

Pour oil, veggies and spices in a heavy stockpot over medium high heat for 12 minutes. Stir occasionally. Heat up the bacon on the stovetop while the veggies are cooking also for about 10-12 minutes. Add the bacon and a little bit of the bacon grease to your veggies along with the diced tomatoes, white beans and chicken stock. Also add the figs. Let simmer covered for 30 minutes. While the stew is simmering, cut up two hefty slices of Country Levain bread into large chunks. Place the bread in a food processor and pulse until the bread is decimated into crumbs. Toss the breadcrumbs in a large pan over medium-low heat and make sure to turn them or stir them frequently until they are toasted. (You could also put them in the oven, but we did it on the stovetop). Et voila. You have made yourself a bowl of a hot mess- garnish it with the breadcrumbs before serving. Enjoy with a cabernet sauvignon. If you’re Nathan, you might also be inclined to sneak in some shaved white cheese like a manchego. Nathan can never get enough of his cheese, but I digress.

 

[/print_this]