Posts by Cara

Sweet Potato, Broccoli & Miso Salad with Avocado

Sweet Potato, Broccoli & Miso Salad with Avocado

There is so much lettuce in the apartment already that I refuse to harvest what’s in the garden. Our CSA has been flush with greens this year, and we’ve been all about ways to use ’em up — in a way that doesn’t feel like we’re eating salad, and nothing but salad, all the time.

That feeling isn’t restricted to the lettuce haul. I can’t be the only shopper whose eyes want more than the fridge can hold. Though I’ve gotten much more restrained over the years, I do still tend to find myself mid-week, staring at shelves filled with green veggies but no protein nor grains and trying to figure out how to make a produce-based meal that’s fit for a human, not a bunny rabbit.

Sweet Potato, Broccoli & Miso Salad with AvocadoSweet Potato, Broccoli & Miso Salad with AvocadoSweet Potato, Broccoli & Miso Salad with Avocado

Since this winter, I’ve been browsing Anna Jones’s A Modern Way to Eat for help solving this dilemma. Like another of my go-to vegetarian cookbook authors, Deborah Madison, Jones knows just how to transform a crisper full of cellulose into a hearty meal. Today’s gorgeous salad-slash-noodle bowl takes its inspiration from one of her creations. Thanks to creamy miso dressing, rich avocado, and hearty sweet potatoes (my addition), you barely notice that you’re making a welcome dent in your lettuce collection.Sweet Potato, Broccoli & Miso Salad with Avocado

Though this dish looks the prettiest when first made and arranged carefully in big bowls, you can also toss all the ingredients together and portion the salad out for brown bag lunches.

A Totally Different Pasta Salad

All Veggie Pasta Salad

I first made this back in not-very-pasta-salad weather. I was intrigued by the ingredients in the pasta with boiled vegetables recipe, which I found while browsing Serious Eats during vegan week. Specifically, one ingredient: potato.

Though I’m not quite a Harold McGee-level food nerd (though I do keep On Food and Cooking on my desk), when I hear of a technique that’s never before been seen in my kitchen, I bump the recipe to the top of my list.

I guess I already knew about how potatoes can transform during cooking. They secretly transform baked goods, especially hamburger buns. As themselves, they can turn into anything from crispy latkes to perfect hash browns to mashed or smashed potatoes. I once read a whole treatise on the right kind of potatoes to use for mashed potatoes. The author couldn’t believe anyone wouldn’t grasp the nuances of starchiness that foretold whether a tater ought to be mashed with butter and cream.

Melted Veggie Pasta Salad

Still, even knowing all that, it’s hard not to say to yourself skeptically: potatoes in pasta? But there it was, a recipe called “Pasta with Melted Vegetable Sauce,” inherited from a chef who’d mastered Italian peasant-style cooking, and presented as a magical way to make a creamy, rich, and hearty sauce from nothing more than boiled vegetables.
All Veggie Pasta Salad

It’s not just the potatoes that make this recipe strange and irresistible. This recipe abandons browning in oil. Instead, everything–veggies and pasta–go into a pot of boiling water, though not all at the same time. This builds up both starch and flavor in the water, so that by the time the pasta goes in, it’s essentially simmering in broth. The final touch

And why make this into pasta salad? Well, back in the winter, I made a huge batch. It was great-tasting when hot, but the leftovers were arguably even better. Which made me think “pasta salad!” and stash the gem away until the right time of year–now.

Making Food in New York City Is Really Hard

Broken-pickle-jar-on-a-Brooklyn-street

There are so many food companies in New York City. Artisanal goodies, from mayo to shortbread, have been booming since I moved back here after college.

We hear news about just-launched foodstuffs, their origin stories drawn in flour, butter, hops, or brine. But it’s less fun to read about how the cookie can sometimes crumble into nothing, leaving food entrepreneurs in a pickle despite their delicious efforts. So, for my latest Crain’s New York Business cover story, I listened to more than a dozen local makers–many of whom aren’t making it–to find out what it’s really like to seek success in the local food biz.

Read the piece here.

(Photo by Buck Ennis)

Strawberry Milkshakes

Strawberry Milkshake

When was the last time you made yourself a milkshake?

If the answer is, “when I was a kid,” I think it’s time you got out your blender.

The only ingredients you need are ice cream and whole milk. The only tip you need to know is not to overblend: the goal is to combine ice cream (about 3 scoops) and milk (just 1/4 cup or so) without liquefying them. Blenders can get really hot, so you’ll want to pulse in short bursts, just until you’ve got a thick but smooth texture.

1_Ice Cream 2_Milk

Of course, that’s just the basic milkshake. You can go crazy with flavors–whether from ice cream, syrups, or mix-ins like oreos–and with garnishes.

Ordinarily, I’m a chocolate or coffee or black-and-white milkshake person, but for this experiment, I branched way out of my comfort zone with strawberry. Whizzing a handful of ripe berries with a teaspoon of sugar in the blender before you add the dairy results in a bright pink, fruity shake that I dare you to resist.

Strawberry Milkshake

For the full story–including my interviews with the milkshake masters at Black Tap and OddFellows and the recipe–check out my piece on First We Feast.

Thin & Crispy Cinnamon & Milk Chocolate Cookies

Thin & Crispy Cinnamon Milk Chocolate Cookies

I got to interview Dorie Greenspan for an article about chocolate chip cookies, and the whole experience–emailing with the lovely Dorie, learning new tips about a treat I imagined I’d mastered, and then baking the best chocolate chip cookies of my life–provided one of those moments where my odd career made sense.

Between researching and writing, Dorie’s best baking wisdom sent me sprinting to the kitchen. (FYI, her forthcoming book, Dorie’s Cookies is going to have absolute tons of cookie wisdom, delivered in Dorie’s signature sweet style). For hours, I had flour and sugar flying through the air as I experimented with changing the proportions of brown sugar to white sugar and considering how much to reduce the overall amount of sweetener when I swapped in milk chocolate for semisweet.

Thin & Crispy Cinnamon-Milk Chocolate Cookies

One of the most thought-provoking ideas Dorie shared with me was this: you could add spices to chocolate chip cookies. Though I love cinnamon in my oatmeal and cardamom in my lassi, when it comes to cookie baking, I only reach into my spice rack to grab the vanilla. Not so on that day of extreme baking.

Butter for CookiesMilk Chocolate Cinnamon CookiesCookie Comparisons

These cookies are one of the experiments, a foray into increased butter, decreased brown sugar, and spice. I love how they turned out. They’re small, thin, crisp, and buttery (you can see the difference next to the pile of more traditional cookies on the right. Recipe here.) They’re sweet but sophisticated. The sophistication, I think, owes much to their mystery: the combination of brown sugar, cinnamon, and milk chocolate has echoes both of gingersnaps and of the best crispy chocolate chip cookies in the Tate’s tradition.

Bite-Sized Mexican Caesar Taco Bowls

Mexican Caesar Tortilla Bowls

Add a spoonful of minced chipotle chili peppers to your classic Caesar salad and you open up a world of flavor. From under a curtain of spicy, creamy, slightly tangy dressing, bright Romaine yields to your teeth with a crunch. To complement the theme, there are cherry tomatoes, avocado, and green pepper.

Delicious.

And what if you make all this bite-sized?

Mexican Caesar Tortilla Bowls
Thanks to Garden of Eatin’ Bowl Tortilla Chips, bite-sized Mexican Caesar taco bowls just became an easy, tasty way to celebrate Cinco De Mayo this week. The new chips are like little star-shaped bowls, ready to be dip into guacamole, black bean dip, or gooey warm artichoke dip.  Because of the shape, every dunk into the dip bowl earns you a lot of dip. The only ingredients in these chips are corn, oil, and salt; they come in two types: White Corn with Sea Salt and Blue Corn with Sea Salt. Garden of Eatin’s chips are organic and GMO-free.Garden of Eatin Bowl Tortilla Chips
In addition to dunking, these chips make for a great presentation of finger food at cocktail parties; if you’re looking to make guacamole elegant, you could fill the chips and display them on platters. That’s the approach I take for my bite-sized Caesar bowls.Mexican Caesar Tortilla Bowls