You soak the berries. You whip the cream. You eat it.
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“I’ll take one double chocolate chip cookie and one…ciabatta loaf?” I said with half-confidence. I didn’t know what I was going to do with the giant oval of a loaf, but I remember re-assuring my friend that it would be something good.
I’m calling this recipe a party trick and not a recipe because it doesn’t require much effort and your guests or (or best friends you forced over for an afternoon of binge watching) will appreciate your classiness and creativity.
If you were to ask me which character from The Office I am most like, I’d probably say Angela (hard worker, cat-lady), whereas my co-workers would say I’m more of a Kelly (bubbly, social, and sometimes a space cadet). Unfortunately, being bubbly on the surface doesn’t necessarily mean feeling amazing on the inside, and as every single commercial playing in 2019 will tell you, “wellness starts from within”.
Recently - after feeling bloat-y and “grossy”, I alongside my cheerleader of a health coach, took on the challenge of eating plant-forward, or as some call it, flexitarian. This means plant-based meals with a side of meat, not meat-based meals with a side of (fried) plants. Growing up the child of a Midwestern woman and a Caribbean man in the American South, meat was basically served on a spit on the dining room table and served with buttered and battered carbs. It was awesome (to me). At nearly 25 years old, I am starting to undo that, but I’d be lying if I said I’d ever go fully plant-based. Ain’t happenin’, there are too many carne asada tacos at steak 😂
Notwithstanding the above, I have fallen in love with plant-based, specifically “raw” dishes. It’s fun to see how I can mold and bend and stretch flavors without using any heat. As a person who eats most of her vegetables fried or sauteed in too much Kerrygold butter, I am loving the challenge that comes with turning raw produce into a filling, complex meal. I’ve been working on this carpaccio for weeks, before it was carpaccio and it was just me trying to use up a bunch of Persian cucumbers before they went bad. Now it’s something I’m proud of and I’d love to see more of on restaurant menus. Fresh, seasonal, simple, and unique. I hope you enjoy it too.
2 small Persian cucumbers
2 red radish
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sweet rice vinegar (mirin)
splash of water
1 tsp salt flakes
1 tsp pink peppercorns
2 tbsp sliced chives
1 oz feta cheese
Wash and, if desired, peel the cucumbers and radishes.
If you have a mandolin, put the cucumbers and radishes through it. Otherwise, carefully and thinly slice them.
Layer the cucumbers and radishes on plate or in a shallow bowl.
In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, mirin, and splash of water.
Crumble the feta cheese over the cucumbers and radishes, then add the chives, and sprinkle with salt and peppercorns.
Drizzle the dressing over the top and serve immediately!
My perfect food day back home in Atlanta starts with a trip to Lee’s Bakery. It’s in a strip mall full of other red signs atop local treasure troves, and if you drive too fast up Buford Highway, you’re sure to pass it.
The second you walk in you’ll be tempted by take-out ready egg rolls, fried to perfection. At the same time you will be rushed to a table by a small Vietnamese man or woman, yelling out orders to “to take a seat!”. One can’t help but notice all the condiments on the table.
I get the same thing every time I go to Lee’s Bakery. A pho tai (rare beef) soup and a small banh mi (pork BBQ sandwich). The idea of two meats in one meal always seems kind of daunting, but rest assured that I’ll always make room. Always.
The second the plate arrives patrons are usually overwhelmed with all the accoutrements for the soup. ‘Am I really supposed to eat all these bean sprouts?’ You might think. Well I certainly think it’s worth a shot. Between palette cleansing sprouts and lively Thai basil, I could eat the toppings and die happy, but the soup calls my name. Remember the sirens in all those mythology stories? Basically that’s the steam coming from the bowl of pho. The soup can be best described as “salty” while the banh mi is straight up layered decadence. I usually alternate between my soup and my crusty, messy sandwich until I can’t anymore. The soup always wins, because noodle soup is supported by what feels like 5 gallons of broth. It’s overwhelming, in a good way, to never run out of broth...
You can’t be pho real?
Oh, I can. It’s that good. This recipe is adapted from a fabulous recipe I’ve been playing with from The Kitchn. You can find it here if you want the real deal with great tips, techniques, and explanations. Below is my version which has got some tweaks, some additions that reminded me of my absolute favorite pho at Lee’s Bakery back home in Atlanta. (Can you tell I love Lee’s Bakery?) Pho is the ultimate comfort, and the noodles aren’t even the star of the show, it’s all about the beef broth baby!
Makes 2 generous servings (lots of broth)
6 c beef broth (not low-sodium)
1 lb sirloin steak or stir fry beef strips
2 pieces (about 2 oz) dried vermicelli noodles
½ small white onion, sliced
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 tsp powdered ginger
½ tsp white pepper
2 whole star anise
Fresh bean sprouts
In a large pot, bring the beef broth, fish sauce, soy sauce, hoisin, garlic, ginger, white pepper, star anise, lime juice, mirin, and sliced onion to a boil on high.
Once boiling, drop the vermicelli noodles into the broth, and cook for one minute or according to packet instructions, using chopsticks to break up the noodles
Drop in the sliced beef and cook for another minute (or more for well-done beef)
Serve in large bowls, topping with fresh mint, basil, scallions, and bean sprouts. Spoon extra broth over the fresh herbs to wilt them down. Msssssss
Special breakfast. Box of chocolates. Cute card. Lavish surf and turf dinner. This was every Valentine’s Day in my mama’s house. Although it was my parents’ home, holidays belonged exclusively to Mama Chin. My mom decorated (and still does) for every holiday. Coordinating festive table linens, appropriate lighting, and music when applicable. No holiday complete without a special meal, and she’s get creative with things from her homey Minnesotan Betty Crocker mental stash or Food Network magazine. Before Pinterest, food influencers, and mommy bloggers alike, there were just really crafty moms doin’ their thing.
So while Valentines Day is a holiday where people think of their significant other, I’ll always think of my mom, who managed (and still manages) to make every holiday even more special than the previous. Food is a gift, an act of kindness, and a love note all in one, and my hope is that I can make holidays special with food as my mom did with me.
If you’ve made it past the first two paragraphs without needing a Kleenex like I did, congrats. You’ve moved on to recipe talk. This recipe is an amped up, gourmand’s version of fondue and chocolates. Cocoa-chili-rubbed filet mignons that are toasty and tender, fondue cheese scalloped sweet potatoes that are moist and savory. If you can look past the simplicity that is classic “steak and potatoes” you’ll see the beauty in this meal, and you’ll find yourself wishing you’d reserved the two servings for you and you alone.
Happy Valentines Day!
Prep and Cook Time: 1 hour Serves: 2
for the steaks
2 4-6 oz petit filet mignon steaks
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp european-style butter
Salt and black pepper, to taste
for the potatoes
2 tbsp european-style butter
1 c heavy whipping cream
1 c chicken or vegetable broth
1 c shredded gruyere cheese
1 c shredded parmesan cheese
¼ c all-purpose flour
1 tsp minced garlic
½ tsp brown or dijon mustard
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp black pepper
Salt, to taste
(optional) for the baby broccoli
6 heads and stems baby broccoli (broccolini)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, sliced
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Pat the steaks dry and rub them with the salt, chili powder, and cocoa powder on all sides. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Take the steaks out about 15 minutes before they’re ready to cook so they get closer to room temperature.
Heat a cast iron skillet to medium-high and in it, melt the butter.
Once the butter is melted and on the verge of sizzling, place the steaks down into the skillet and cook for 4 minutes, constantly basting with the pan butter.
Flip the steaks to the other side and baste again, adding pepper to your crust and salt as desired.
After steaks have cooked for about 4 minutes each side (or more if you’d like them more well-done than medium-rare), remove them from heat and on to a cutting board to rest.
Serve after about 7-10 minutes of resting.
Peel and thinly slice the sweet potatoes so that they’re just thick enough to not be see-through.
Preheat oven to 375
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter on medium high heat
Add the heavy cream and broth, then incorporate the garlic, nutmeg, mustard, and black pepper. Bring to a rolling boil.
Once boiling, whisk in the flour and turn the heat down to low, whisking until you have a thick, gravy-like consistency.
Turn the heat down to the lowest setting and incorporate the shredded cheese into the sauce. Taste the sauce to make sure it’s just salty enough to off-set the sweetness of your potatoes
Grease a small baking dish with neutral oil with butter, and layer potatoes and cheese sauce on top of each other until the potatoes are covered.
For softer potatoes: Bake at 375 for 30 minutes then broil at 475 for 5 minutes
For ‘al dente’ potatoes: Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes then broil at 475 for 5 minutes
Your potatoes should have a nice bubbly-brown crust on them. Serve hot!
Heat neutral oil in a grill pan or skillet on high heat for 2 minutes
Char the slice lemons in the pan for 2 minutes on each side, until you see grill/char marks
Carefully add a little more oil to the pan and the broccolini, and char for 3 minutes on each side.
Salt to taste. Serve immediately with the charred lemons.
Toward the end of 2018 when it was getting reaaaaalllyyy chilly up here in NYC, I going out for ramen twice a week, and when it was getting hard to keep my pants button I wanted to swear it off. Being the kitchen solutioneer that I am, I decided to riff on ramen with something Thai insipired, with less salt, and NO MEAT?!? I’m just as surprised at myself as you are, but trust me when I say this bowl will have you satisfied.
Serves: 1 | Time: 20 minutes
- 1 c coconut milk
- 2 c vegetable or chicken broth
- 3 oz dry ramen noodles
- 1/2 medium sweet onion, sliced
- 1 c scallions
- 1/2 c sweet corn
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 tbsp grated garilc
- 2 tsp lime juice
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- sriracha, to taste
- black pepper (optional)
- red chili flakes (optional)
- sesame seeds (optional)
- fresh lime (optional)
- Bring the the coconut milk and broth to a simmer in a large pot on medium low.
- Add everything but the optional ingredients and the ramen noodles to the pot, stir and cover.
- Once everything comes to a really aromatic boil, add your ramen noodles and cook as directed (usually 3 minutes).
- Serve soup immediately with pepper, chili, flakes, sesame, lime, and scallions as a garnish.
Easy, breezy, beautiful shishito peppers.
I didn’t pioneer this recipe, I simply perfected it.
Once you get the risotto method down, you won’t be needing me. And that’s ok.
Gifts for kitchen newbies and big-time foodies alike.
All my favorite recipes start with a sale. With oxtails going for as much as $7 a pound now, seeing them at my local grocer for $5 a pound, I couldn’t shy away. Being Jamaican, you grow up eating sweet and savory brown stew oxtail, sucking on the bones and hoping more meat might magically appear in your mouth, or in the gravy. I recently texted my grandmother asking for her best oxtail recipe, to which she coyly replied, “I don’t have a written recipe just cook it and add my little touches here and there”. That’s fine, grandma, because I’ll be watching and learning come Christmas.
I had (and still have) a few pounds of perfect pre-sliced oxtails in my freezer calling my name, so I got to work! If you couldn’t tell already, I’ve been on a miso kick. I started with a really familiar white miso paste and now I’m using savory red miso paste in almost everything. It’s the star of this stew, and lends it such a hearty flavor. My grandma would probably faint if she saw the contents of this recipe, but what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her, right? 🤗 Bon appetit!
1 1/2-2lbs sliced oxtails
1 whole medium yellow onion, quartered
3 celery stocks, sliced
4 large carrots, sliced
2 c water
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red miso paste
1 tbsp dry red wine
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp white pepper
coarse sea salt
fresh thyme sprigs
FOR THE RICE:
1 c of your favorite white rice
1 c coconut milk
1 c water
1 tsp sea salt
Spread the oxtails out on a sheet pan and liberally sprinkle all sides with sea salt. Make sure they’re at about room-temperature.
In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil on high.
Place the oxtails down in the hot oil, browning them for 5 minutes on each side (lots of sizzles and pops here!)
After browning, remove them from the pot, turn the heat down to medium, and set aside.
Add the carrot, celery, and onion to the pot, and allow them to saute in the residual liquid from the browned meat, for about 5 minutes.
Stir in the garlic paste, red miso, tomato paste, and white pepper, until you’ve got a fragrant, pastey, melange going
Add 2 cups of water to the vegetables to help deglaze the pan and build your broth.
Turn the heat down to low, carefully add the oxtails back into the pot, then the thyme, soy sauce, and red wine.
Give it a good stir, cover, and simmer for an hour.
After an hour has passed, ladel about a cup of the broth into a bowl and whisk together with flour, until very thick. Stir this back into the pot to thicken the broth.
Cover and continue to simmer for another hour.
Rice can be made ahead of time if you’d like it to be ready sooner. Bring well-rinsed rice, salt, water, and coconut milk to a boil in a medium-sized pot.
Once the rice has boiled, bring the heat down to low and cover
After about 10 minutes, uncover the rice and fluff it well with a fork.
After about 2.5-3 hours of simmering, your oxtails should separate from the bone on their own or easily with a fork! Serve over rice immediately.
If we looked at a Venn Diagram of people who love chicken wings vs. people who make chicken wings at home for themselves, there wouldn’t be a lot of overlap. I’m here to fix that with a fool-proof recipe packed with rich, umami flavor that will help restore belief in your chicken-making abilities.
I can and will not be held liable for any feuds that ensue over the last piece of this bread pudding.
When Yemisi sent me a few beautiful, colorful jars of her soups and sauces, I knew it was time to get to work. Egunsi Foods, her baby, brings West African flavors into our American kitchens with the twist of a cap. Everything is fresh, flavorful, colorful, and bright. And did I mention she’s in Harlem too? Egunsi can be found at Whole Foods Harlem and online direct to your door!
Groundnut, or peanut butter stew, is a traditional West African stew, and using the groundnut soup from Egunsi, I got to make my own twist. It’s earthy, creamy, and savory all at once. Get the recipe and warm yourself up this fall...scroll down for the deets.
2 lbs dark meat chicken, skin-on and bone-in
4 c plain cooked white rice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 c collard greens, shredded
2 zucchini squash, sliced and quartered
1 c full-fat coconut milk
1 jar Egunsi peanut butter soup
2 plum tomatoes, in chunks
1/2 medium white onion, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 lime, juiced
Garnish with: cilantro, crushed red pepper, crushed coriander, salt flakes
In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil to high heat for about 2 minutes
Brown the chicken for 3 minutes on each side, then add the apple cider vinegar to de-glaze the pan
Turn the burner down to medium-low and add the peanut butter soup, coconut milk, onion, tomatoes, tomato paste, ginger, bay leaf, salt and pepper, coriander, garlic, and lime juice to the pot. I know that was a lot
Cover and simmer for one hour.
Un-cover the pot and add the zucchini and collard greens we are doing this towards the end so they don’t get mushy
Cover the pot again and simmer for another hour.
Serve the stew over rice and garnish how you’d like!
Fall festivity all up in ya mouth, folks.
Fall is here, and for me and other amateur gourmands this means invoking the spirit of Ina Garten, queen of bougie comfort food.
Steak n eggs is my favorite thing to order at brunch, especially when made with my favorite cuts, skirt or hanger steak. It’s super indulgent and they almost never give you a big enough piece of meat so you’re left wanting more. When you make it at home you save some change, and you can put your own spin on it. For me, that spin is lots of garlicky, herby butter. If you haven’t made my five ingredient whipped herb butter yet, try it now!
1/2 lb hanger steak
2 large eggs
1/4 c whipped herb butter
2 tbsp oil
salt + pepper
bread for toasting
On a clean cutting board, liberally sprinkle the steak with salt and pepper, covering both sides of the meat
Melt half of the butter in a cast iron skillet on high heat, until it starts to bubble
In a separate small non-stick skillet, heat the oil of your choice on medium high and sprinkle the pan with salt
Throw the steak into the screaming hot cast iron skillet and cook for 4-6 minutes on each side, basting in butter repeatedly
Simultaneously, fry the eggs in the hot oil, only flipping them once when the outsides start to crackle
Once the steak has developed a nice crust, remove it from heat and place it on a clean cutting board. Allow the meat to rest while you finish the eggs.
Toast the bread and smother in the remainder of the butter.
Slice the steak and serve with your fried eggs and toast, and possibly more butter if desired...enjoy!
This herb butter can go on bread, steak, pasta, fish, and even your fingers!
This is a salad for when you want to feed your body and your soul at the same time.