Walnut Pesto

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Maybe better than OG pesto…

I learned something new while preparing to write this post. I learned that Jody Williams has another restaurant in the West Village. A restaurant that somehow I had never heard of (whaaaat). I knew about Buvette, which has previously inspired some home cooked meals, and Via Carota, her collaboration with Rita Sodi. Somehow I missed Gottino, the oldest of the bunch and quite possibly the most understated. It has a cute patio and a long spacious bar. It looks very appetizing compared to the squished “bistro” seating I’ve endured at Buvette, all for the sake of their delicious tartinettes.

There are few foods items I enjoy more than tartinettes (also known as crostinis) – a crusty piece of toast topped with a creative combination of cheese, meat, and/or vegetables. This walnut pesto is one such creation and comes originally from Gottino, but is now served at Buvette as well. Having it at Buvette for the first time, I knew I would love it forever. The rendition Luke and I make at home is very nearly as good. If I could I would eat this for dinner often – several large spoonfuls on crispy toasts with just a simple mixed green salad. Unfortunately, Luke doesn’t consider walnut pesto tartinettes substantial enough for dinner. I encourage you to enjoy walnut pesto for lunch, happy hour, dinner, maybe even breakfast. Our recipe comes from Deb Perelman. I also love this succinct recipe writeup from The New York Times in 2008, which omits ingredient measurements. Jody Williams has been serving walnut pesto for nearly ten years! That is the strongest endorsement of this recipe’s deliciousness.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup shelled walnuts (optional: toast and let cool)
  • 1/4 cup grated parm
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed or grated
  • fresh thyme (strip a few sprigs and give ’em rough chop)
  • salt, to taste
  • splash of red wine or sherry vinegar
  •  1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 TBS minced sun dried tomato (oil packed or dry will work, if using oil packed can go a little lighter on the olive oil)
  • sliced baguette

Directions:

  1. Using a mortar and pestle or food processor, grind walnuts, cheese, garlic, thyme, salt, and vinegar. Stir in olive oil and tomatoes.
  2. Toast your baguette slices (cut fairly thin, 1/2 inch or so). Heap a generous spoonful of pesto onto your warm slices and enjoy immediately.
  3. Pesto can be stored at room temp for up to a week.

Sweet Potato Tacos

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Weekday deliciousness

I’ve been making this meal since college. It’s inexpensive, healthy, easy, and quite tasty. And with the sweet potato’s recent growth in popularity (in 2015, farmers produced more sweet potatoes than in any year since World War II) this recipe turns out to be in vogue as well! For Luke and I, sweet potato tacos are a reliable weekday meal. We often neglect this recipe, as it’s almost too basic. But, when we made it recently and spruced up our tacos with a couple extra fixings we looked at our plates and both said, “Damn! These tacos are kinda good looking!” Like, cover of a magazine good looking. We decided they’re worth sharing. This recipe is somewhat of an original, though the black beans are a riff on a Goya recipe, courtesy of the back of the can. Shout out to Goya Foods!

Ingredients:

  • 2-4 sweet potatoes (depending on size), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 TBS red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water
  • 8-10 soft tortillas
  • cilantro, finely chopped (for topping)
  • feta cheese, crumbled (for topping)

Directions:

  1. Begin by roasting the sweet potatoes. Preheat oven to 425°F. In a bowl, mix the sweet potatoes with 1-2 TBS olive oil, cumin, chili powder, and 1 tsp salt and pepper. Move sweet potatoes to a large baking sheet and spread evenly. It’s best if each sweet potato has some breathing room. You don’t want them overlapping! Roast for 30-35 minutes, making sure to check halfway through. Give em a shake so they get a little brown on all sides.
  2. While sweet potatoes are roasting, make the beans. Heat 1-2 TBS olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. Add onions, bell pepper, and jalapeno. Cook for about 6 minutes, or until onions are translucent and peppers are soft. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more. Pour in the beans, with their juices. Fill the can with water a little less than halfway. Stir water around to make sure all the contents of the can are loose and pour into saucepan.  Add red wine vinegar, oregano, and 1 tsp salt. Bring beans to a boil and then simmer uncovered. Simmer for 15-2o minutes, or until sauce has thickened.
  3. When sweet potatoes are finished, mash slightly on the sheet. You want them to be a little chunky.
  4. While everything is finishing up, we advising warming up your tortillas. Either for 1 minute in the microwave, or a little nicer, individually in a skillet (this will give them a bit of charring).
  5. Assemble your tacos to your liking! We start with a base of sweet potatoes, a scoop of beans, a few drops of Valentina Salsa Picante, some freshly chopped cilantro, and a scattering of feta cheese.

Details: Serves 2-4. You’ll have plenty of beans, so roast more sweet potatoes if you’re trying to feed a few more mouths!

Parm Broth

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Just a few ingredients yields a rich broth

The impetus for concocting this recipe was an Instagram post, and if I remember correctly, it was  post by Bon Appétit. Upon seeing the photo in my feed, I immediately thought to myself “YES, what a great way to use all those leftover Parmesan rinds Luke and I are always having to throw away.” Ingenious cooking for the WIN. I saw this post back in January, during the height of soup making season, and have been saving Parmesan rinds in our freezer since then. So finally last weekend, before we head into consistently nice Springtime weather, Luke and I spent our Sunday afternoon simmering some Parm broth. It perfumed our lil’ apartment with a cheesy fragrance…mmmmm. The result: a rich and versatile broth that can be used to enhance flavor in soup, pasta, and bean dishes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 head garlic, halved crosswise
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 3-5 parsley sprigs
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 lb Parmesan rinds (we used around 10 rinds of varying sizes)

Directions:

  1. In a large pot or dutch oven heat the oil over medium-high heat. Cook onion, garlic, thyme, parsley, and peppercorns, stirring often, until garlic has browned, about 5 minutes. Add wine and bring to a simmer. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 4 minutes, scraping up any brown bits.
  2. Add 8 cups water and Parmesan rinds. Bring to a boil and the reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours. You will have to stir occasionally to prevent cheese from sticking to the bottom of your pot.
  3. After 2 hours, strain your broth through a fine-mesh sieve (we used a colander and cheese cloth) into a large bowl.

Details: Yields about 4 cups of broth.

¡Salsa Verde Chilaquiles!

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It’s pronounced chil-a-QUILES

Shout out to Caesar at Candela’s on the Bay in Coronado, California! Whenever I’m home in San Diego, my family visits Caesar for Sunday brunch and we all order the Salsa Verde Chilaquiles. They are the bomb! The deliciousness of chilaquiles was reaffirmed by Gilmore Girls Season 7 Episode 20.  Caesar of Luke’s Diner fixes up some chilaquiles for a breakfast special and they are wildly popular. To the Caesars around the world promoting chilaquiles: keep doing your thing. Because this dish deserves to be on every restaurant’s brunch menu!

Our version is a combination of two recipes, the first you can find on Spoon Fork Bacon and the second is a from our trusted friends at NYT Food.  Chilaquiles are very versatile! Feel free to swap green salsa for red, add some chorizo or shredded chicken, mix in the eggs rather than fry on top, eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner – whatever your heart desires!

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeño, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups salsa verde (green salsa), homemade or store bought
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • salt & pepper
  • 3-5 handfuls of thick, authentic tortilla chips
  • 4-5 eggs
  • queso fresco (or feta), radishes, fresh chopped cilantro for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Heat oil in a heavy bottom skillet (cast iron pan!) over medium-high heat.  Add onions and saute, stirring frequently, until tender (5-8 minutes).  Add a little salt, garlic, and jalapeño.  Cook for 1-2 minutes more.
  3. Add the salsa and broth and stir together. Bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, add tortilla chips, one handful at a time.  Allow chips to soak up the liquid before adding more.  You may need to gently press the chips into the liquid mixture.  Don’t skimp on chips! Otherwise you’ll have a soggy mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Crack eggs directly on top of mixture and then transfer to the oven.  Bake 8-10 minutes until eggs have set, but are still a bit gooey.
  5. Garnish!!

Details: Serves 4-6.

To print the recipe, click here: Chilaquiles

 

My Momma’s Brunswick Stew

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Stew-y Goodness

Growing up, my mother would make Brunswick Stew every Halloween. But, to my childhood self Brunswick Stew was known as Witches Brew and it was a delicious, incomparable concoction my mother created all on her own. One of my favorite meals, I remember it having a salty, sweet, tangy broth, chunks of moist chicken, and a well rounded mix of vegetables and legumes.  Every spoonful was chock-full of goodness. Recently, while browsing The Kitchn I came across a list of quintessential Southern recipes and BAM! Brunswick Stew made the list! I was unaware of the contention surrounding Brunswick Stew. I didn’t even know it was Southern dish! So I did some research, compared recipes, read up on the controversy, and finally called my mom. Because momma always knows best! This is the recipe she recited to me from memory and when Luke and I made it for the first time it was just as good as I remember.

Ingredients (to cook chicken):

  • 1 whole chicken, 3 1/2 – 4 lbs
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 3-5 carrots (depending on size), cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 TBS freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 TBS salt
  • 8 cups water (approximately)

Ingredients (for stew):

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 28 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 5 cups chicken stock + 1 1/2 – 2 lbs shredded chicken (from above)
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 16 oz can green lima beans
  • 2 cups corn (we use frozen)
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce
  • 2 TBS brown sugar
  • 2 TBS Worcestershire sauce

Directions:

  1. Cook chicken: This should be done the night before serving or morning of.* Put whole chicken in a large soup pot and cover entirely with water.  Add onions, celery, carrots, and salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and then immediately simmer over med-low heat for 1/2 hour.  Then cover, remove from heat, and let sit over night or all day (8-12 hours).
  2. Shred Chicken: Remove chicken from the pot and place in a dish.  Strain chicken stock and return to soup pot.  To shred chicken, just start pulling away skin and chunks of meat.  Don’t shred too finely! Aim for 2-3 inch pieces. And make sure to be thorough, cleaning the meat off the bones.  Discard skin and place chicken chunks in a separate dish. Cover chicken with a couple spoonfuls of stock to keep moist. Return the chicken bones to the soup pot with the stock.  Simmer stock with bones for 45 more minutes, reducing by 1-2 cups and boosting the flavor.  Then strain the stock again into a large bowl.
  3. Stew assembly: Heat olive oil in a large soup pot.  Add onions, cooking for 2-4 minutes, then garlic, cooking for 2 minutes more.  Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands or with a spoon as well as the tomato juices in the can.  Then literally add everything else all at once – 5 cups chicken stock you made (should have some still leftover), lima beans, corn, potatoes, ketchup, BBQ sauce, sugar, and Worcestershire sauce.  Bring to a boil, then add shredded chicken and then simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.You’ll have so much stew!! 3-4 quarts. Serve with cornbread. Makes ahhhmazing leftovers.

You’ll have so much stew!! 3-4 quarts. Serve with cornbread (see our recipe here!!). Makes ahhhmazing leftovers.

*Note 1: If you’d like, you can source 1 1/2 – 2 lbs shredded chicken elsewhere (for example: supermarket rotisserie chicken) and skip this step entirely.  You’ll also need to source five cups chicken stock.

To print the recipe, click here: Brunswick Stew

Bâtons + Soft Boiled Egg

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In action!

In college, a classic dining hall meal was breakfast for dinner. Freshman year brinner was an occasion. What could be better than eggs, pancakes, and a giant platter of bacon? Unsurprisingly, brinner always turned out to be a little lackluster.  Watery eggs, chewy pancakes.  And though the bacon was actually perfectly crispy, a self-respecting person can only allow themselves to consume so much bacon. After freshman year I moved out of the dorms and said goodbye to dining hall food, but not to brinner. Because making breakfast for dinner allowed for some cheap, quick, and very satisfying meals. And because breakfast food is delicious. When we’re feeling lazy about making a weekday dinner, Luke and I will whip up some bacon, cheesy eggs, wrap em up in a tortilla, squirt some sriracha on top and voilà – dinner! This recipe is a bit more special. It comes from the Buvette cookbook (fav brunch spot for all the NYC betches) and puts a little fancy flair on a breakfast meal that I imagine many cute French children enjoying. Dip these crunchy bâtons into a gooey soft boiled egg and enjoy! A delicious dinner (or brunch) without the 2 hour wait.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 rustic loaf of bread (boule) ~ making 16 bâtons
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • handful grated parm
  • 1-2 tsp fresh (or dried) thyme *it using dried, use closer to 1 tsp
  • 8 slices prosciutto, cut in half lengthwise
  • as many eggs as you like!! (serves 4-6)
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Making the bâtons: Cut your bread loaf into 4 slices, cutting from the middle of the bread to have wider, evenly sized slices.  Cut each slice into 4 long bâtons, aim for about middle finger size, 1/2 inch thickness.  Place bâtons on a baking sheet in one layer and bake 5-10 minutes, turning once or twice to ensure all sides are golden brown.
  3. Adding the flare: Remove baking sheet from the oven, drizzle bâtons with oil olive to evenly cover and scatter with parm and thyme.  Wrap each bâton with a strip of prosciutto and then place back on the baking sheet.  Bake for another 5-10 minutes.
  4. Eggs: Meanwhile, boil a pot of water (enough to cover however many eggs you’d like to boil).  Once boiling, add the eggs *gently* and cook for 3 1/2 minutes.  Remove (again, gently!) and run over with cold water.
  5. Get your egg set up in its stand, crank and peel the egg shell and puncture! Dip your bâton to soak up all that yolk-y goodness!  This is an action packed meal.

Details: As mentioned in the ingredients, this recipe can serve up to six (doing the math, that’s about 3 bâtons per person) but Luke and I could easily eat up to 8 bâtons each.  They’re addicting!!

Some notes:

  • This meal is excellent with a simple side salad of greens, tossed with a vinaigrette dressing.
  • If you don’t have egg stands, as they are a somewhat unusual and niche kitchen accessory, you can peel the shell of the egg as you would with a hard boiled egg.  It’s a bit tricky, but doable.  Arrange 4 or so bâtons on a plate and place your unpeeled soft boiled egg on top and then break.  You can use your bâtons to soak up the yolk-y mess.
  • Deb also has a delicious looking bâtons recipe  on Smitten Kitchen. YUM.

To print the recipe, click here: Bâtons + Soft Boiled Egg