What Season Is This Anyway?

Jack-o-lantern-Amana-Tomato-72dpiIt’s that weird time of the year when the drugstores are (blasphemously) selling cheap candy and pumpkin spiced-everything while heirloom tomatoes are still available at the supermarket. One minute I’m frolicking outside in a dress and the next minute jeans and closed-toe shoes are necessary.

Anyway, for dinner last night I decided to dabble with the four remaining beefsteak [well, three–I used one heirloom] tomatoes at Whole Foods and made them into tomates farcies (stuffed and topped with breadcrumbs.) I paired them with a spinach cake, because what’s better than savory ingredients re-imagined as a baked good? (Why does “baked good” sound so odd?) With the tops of the tomatoes I made a cute lil’ colorful salad dressed with balsamic-parmesan vinaigrette.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetBaked Tomatoes with Sausage Stuffing [from “Tomatoes” a Short Stack Edition by Soa Davies]
[Serves 4]
4 large beefsteak tomatoes
1 cup diced country or sourdough bread
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 pound pork sausage, casing removed
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 egg
4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Fine sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup bread crumbs [I needed maybe 1/2 of that]
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice 1/2 inch off one end of each of the tomatoes, scoop out the pulp and seeds and reserve for another use. [I saved the tops for the salad!] Place the tomatoes, cut side up, in a baking dish. Place the diced bread in a bowl and cover with the milk.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the sausage. Cook the sausage until well browned, breaking it up with a spatula as it cooks. Add the onion and garlic and continue cooking until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Let the meat mixture cool slightly, then transfer it to the bowl with the bread and the milk. Add the egg, parsley, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and two pinches of cracked black pepper. Stir the ingredients to combine.

Drizzle the olive oil over each of the tomatoes and lightly season with salt and pepper. Fill each tomato with some of the sausage mixture and cover the baking dish with foil. Transfer the dish to the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

While the tomatoes are baking, stir the breadcrumbs and Parmesan together in a small bowl. After the tomatoes have baked for 25 minutes, top each one with some of the bread-crumb mixture and continue to bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and toasted. [I broiled for about 5-8 minutes]. Transfer to plates and serve.photo 5

David Tanis’ Spinach Cake [from Yummy Supper, original recipe from David Tanis'”Platter of Figs”]

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 presetINGREDIENTS
adapted from David Tanis’ Platter of Figs 

  • 2 pound spinach leaves
  • 2 medium leeks, 2 heads green garlic, and/or 2 spring onions [I just used leeks]
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • freshly ground nutmeg [I used pre-ground]
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Parmesan

Thoroughly clean spinach leaves. Coarsely chop and set aside. Dice leeks, green garlic and/or spring onion.

Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium heat.

Add leeks, onion, and/ or garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for about five minutes until tender. Grate nutmeg over the top.

Turn up the heat. Add spinach in layers (salt each layer as you go) until you can fit it all in the pan. Cover and steam, stirring once or twice, until spinach has just wilted. This should only take a couple of minutes.

Spread cooked spinach onto a platter to cool.

Preheat oven to 400.

When spinach has cooled, get out your blender and puree spinach, eggs, and milk in batches. (Tanis suggests reserving the extra liquid from the cooked spinach and adding it to the puree. I would recommend pouring out the excess spinach water. When I left it in, I had liquid at the bottom of my cake when it was done cooking.) Add extra salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Puree should be heavily seasoned.

Pour soupy batter into a buttered baking dish. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of grated Parmesan over the top.

Bake uncovered in the oven for 35-45 minutes until firm. When the cake is done, you should be able to insert a knife and it will come out clean.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetAnd then just my little tomato salad:photo 4

[Tomato Jack O’Lantern photo courtesy of Western Gardeners]


Soy and Soba Saturday Supper

image_1Although I live in New York, I spend a lot of time in Washington D.C. visiting some very important people in my life: my boyfriend, my brother, my sister-in-law and my best friend (who conveniently lives in the basement apartment of my brother and sis-in-law’s house!) Some visits are jam-packed with dinners and activities, which is always lots of fun, but sometimes it’s perfect not to leave the house and just cook, eat, and straight chill. My boyfriend* and I went shopping my first real day in town, and planned for the next few days (he’s type A, and I’m just really into shopping lists):photo(4) Our Saturday night dinner had been something I’d been thinking about for a few days and featured one particular recipe I’d been dying to make: Cold Soba Salad from Short Stack Edition‘s Strawberries volume by food author extraordinaire Susan Spungen. I’d sampled the dish before and was eager to recreate it myself (plus, I love anything Japanese-inspired) Here’s the page from the book, with lovely illustrations by designer Rotem Raffe (see above). I’m including the recipe written out, too, as this one may be a little hard to read!

strawberries layout copyCold Soba Salad from Short Stack Editions Vol 3: Strawberries by Susan Spungen (Serves 8)

For the dressing:
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white miso
1 hot red chile, finely minced, or more to taste [I couldn’t find red chiles so added a squirt or two of Sriracha]
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil

For the salad:
One 8.8-ounce package soba noodles
4 ounces shishito peppers (if they’re not in season, substitute cubanelle or poblano peppers) [these weren’t available, but I did celery instead–not really an even trade, but the fresh crunch was nice]
1/2 cucumber–peeled, seeded and thinly sliced on the bias into 1/4-inch half moons [I used two little Persian cucumbers]
2 cups strawberries, hulled and halved (about 1/2 pound whole) [still surprisingly tasty from Trader Joes!]
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup mint, roughly chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped


…Strawbz. Thanks Instagram for the mood lighting.

Make the dressing: Stir the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt together until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Add the miso, chile, and sesame oil; whisk to combine. Set aside.
Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water. Drain well. Toss the noodles with the dressing.
Grill the shishito peppers on a grill or grill pain in a cast-iron skillet until they’re blistered and softened, about 2 to 3 minutes a side. Let them cool, then slice on a bias and discard the seeds. [I skipped this step, since I didn’t use shishitos, but sounds pretty good, right?]
Top the dressed noodles with the grilled peppers, cucumbers, strawberries, scallions, mint and cilantro. Mix gently to combine and serve.image_5

For the main course, I wanted to stick with Asian flavors, and decided to do a Soy Sauce glazed Roast chicken, loosely based on this recipe.

Here’s what I did, using a 5 1/2 pound chicken.
As I always do, I employed Mark Bittman’s super-easy roast chicken method, and turned the oven to 480 degrees F, and a few minutes into the pre-heat, put a Cast-Iron pan in the oven on a lower rack.

Meanwhile, I made the glaze for the 5 1/2 pound chicken (we wanted leftovers!), by melting about 9 Tablespoons of UNsalted butter, 1/2 cup of Soy Sauce, and about a teaspoon of white miso paste (leftover from the Soba Salad!) [for this, make sure to use UNsalted butter because the soy and miso are both salty as hey-ull]
I had some leftover scallions also from the Soba Salad, and stuck about 3 of them into the chicken cavity, along with some garlic. Next time, I want to use only softened butter with the soy and miso and stick it under the skin. ANYWAY…Then, I stuck the chicken in the oven, scattered some garlic cloves around it, and voilà! 40 Minutes later we got this:image

And, what’s dinner without these two things:
1. Cheese and Crackers (and a little Arsenal pride in the form of a coaster…)image_3          2. Leftovers for Sunday night TV binge fest
          No, I don’t want to talk about Breaking Bad ever againimage_2*I hereby promise I’ll never be one of those food bloggers that spends most of the time talking about their boyfriend. They’re the worst.