Friday, June 26, 2020

Blistered Shishito Peppers

This is one of my favorite treats of summer.  Simply: heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat, add the shishitos, toss with sea salt, and sautee until they start to blacken and deflate a little, about 5-8 minutes.  You may have to remove some of the smaller peppers first as they will blister a bit faster.  That's it, now eat them seeds and all (just don't eat the stems).  About 1 in 10 of these will be pretty spicy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs with Bacon, Onions & Olives

I borrowed this recipe from Canal House Cooking Vol. 3 (Winter & Spring).  It's been kind of a staple around here lately, especially when the fridge is on the emptier side.  The sesame seeds are my own addition.  This recipe will work with boneless chicken thighs but it won't be as good!

4 Chicken thighs, bone-in and skin on!
3-4 strips of bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, diced
1 cup of green olives, pitted and chopped
2 tbsps olive oil
Toasted sesame seeds
Splash of vinegar of your choice 

Season chicken thighs with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and let them come up to room temperature while you get everything else ready. 

Heat the olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the bacon and let the fat render for a few minutes.  Add the onion and season with salt & pepper.  Let the onion soften but don't let it quite brown--it's going to cook a little more as the recipe continues.  Add the garlic clove and stir.

Move the onion, garlic, and bacon to the outer edges of the pan to make room for the chicken thighs, then place the thighs skin-side down in the center of the pan.  Make sure the skin is getting good contact with the pan.  Cook undisturbed (very important) for 20 minutes or until the skin is crispy and dark golden brown.  Turn the heat down a little if necessary to avoid burning. 

Flip the chicken thighs, spoon the onions, garlic, and bacon over the thighs, add the olives to the pile, and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until done.  Finish with a splash of vinegar and some toasted sesame seeds.

Frittata of the Day #7

Zucchini & summer squash, basil, ricotta, mozzarella.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Friday, May 29, 2020

Morning Walks

I've taken to going for walks fairly early in the morning, before 7am, when the streets are quiet(er).  It's just me, early dogwalkers, and garbagemen.  A jogger or two.  I'll make a cup of coffee, throw some weight (20# or so) in a backpack and head out.  Call it rucking if you like. 

I'm grateful to live in a neighborhood lush with foliage.  There are lots of houses with beautiful front gardens, and this Spring it's been incredible to simply watch things grow and bloom.  I notice something new every time I go out.

Sidenote: the iNaturalist app has been helpful for identifying the things I'm seeing--putting a name to a face.  This nice yellow flower, for example, is called "Creeping Buttercup".

Here are some more:

I've found it very useful to track my daily step count during these times, to try and match my activity level pre-pandemic (7000 steps per day).  I work in the restaurant industry, and I've been unemployed since things really shut down.  I noticed old aches and pains coming back with a vengeance after a couple weeks of simply taking it easy, and just the small act of making sure I get those 7000 steps in goes a long way (with or without a weighted pack).  I've realized how important walking is--it definitely meets the criterion for the "80/20" rule (80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts--walking is absolutely part of that 20%).  When I think back to periods of my life when I felt particularly limber and pain-free, I notice that, hmmm...yep, I was walking a lot at that point.

So much of life is steeped in convenience at this point.  It would be entirely possible to sustain life from the couch--ordering delivery (and even cocktails--absurd) and binge-watching Netflix all day, waiting for the world to open back up.  But our bodies are efficient, and if you don't use it, you lose it.  We actually have to intentionally introduce challenge ("load") to our lives if we want to stay strong, limber, and youthful.  This means getting outside (wear a mask), cooking your food (after walking to the farmer's market to buy your produce, perhaps), installing a pull-up bar in your home and hanging from it throughout the day--anything you can do to undermine the convenience that is seemingly always there, offering to do it for us.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Curried Kale

1 bunch of kale, preferably Lacinato, destemmed and roughly chopped
2 medium onions, sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 fresh red chili, diced, or a pinch of dried chili flakes
1 tbsp vadouvan curry powder
2 cups of chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
2 tbsp olive oil

Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium heat, then add onions and season with salt and pepper.  If using a fresh chili, add it after the onions have cooked for a few minutes.  Once everything is nice and soft, add the garlic and curry powder (and dried chili flakes, if using) and stir to coat for about a minute.  Add the kale to the pot in batches, space allowing, and add a little salt each time.  Once all the kale has been added and it's had time to soften a little, add the stock or water (if using water, add a little more salt and curry powder here), scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to collect all the flavorful bits that have accumulated, then turn the heat to high.  Once the liquid begins to bubble, partially cover the pot and turn the heat down to medium-low.  Simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally, adding more liquid if necessary.  You should end up with something brothy, but not soupy.  Consider adding a fried egg.

Sunday, May 24, 2020


My first roll-up.  It's a work in progress, but I was pretty happy about it this morning!

Friday, May 22, 2020

Cauliflower & Spinach Curry

This is a hearty & warming vegetarian option that is fairly hands-off once you gather all of the ingredients and do the chopping.  This recipe makes 6 large servings.

1 head cauliflower, cored and roughly chopped
2 medium onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, diced
2" piece of ginger, grated
2 serrano peppers, seeded and diced
1 bunch of spinach, coarsely chopped
1tbsp turmeric
1tsp curry powder
1tsp cumin
1tsp coriander
1/2tsp cinnamon
1/8tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch of asafoetida (optional)
1 fistful of cilantro, chopped + more to serve
14.5oz can of diced tomatoes with their juices
14oz can of coconut milk
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3tsp coconut oil
Squeeze of lime

Heat the coconut oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onions and season with salt.  Stir occasionally until the onions are starting to get slippery (about 5 minutes), then add the serranos.  Cook for a few minutes longer, then add the ginger, garlic, and spices.  Stir for a minute to coat, then add the cauliflower and more salt.  Add more oil if necessary, and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the can of tomatoes with their juice, and salt.  Let this mixture cook for a few minutes, then add the stock and turn up the heat.  When things start to bubble, add the spinach in batches (with a little pinch of salt each time) and let it wilt as space allows.  Once the spinach has all been added and wilted, turn the heat to low and add the coconut milk.  Stir, then partially cover the pot.

Allow the curry to sit on the stove for at least one hour, but 3-4 hours will be ideal to let the curry get good & mushy.  The thickness can be adjusted to your taste--cook less for a soupier curry.  Towards the end of the cooking time, stir in the cilantro.  Ladle into bowls and serve with a squeeze of lime and more cilantro.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Brazil Diogo Dias

Method: French Press (41g Coffee / 500g Water)

This is a super satisfyingly fudgy, nutty coffee from Heart Coffee Roasters out of Portland, OR.  Very smooth and almost chewy...  Like a warm brownie.  Naturally processed.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Agua Blanca

Method: "Ultimate French Press Method" 
35g coffee/507g water

This coffee is delightful.  Light, creamy, and sweet with some fruity (grape) notes as well.  I tend to like George Howell's Columbian coffees--even the decaf which I drank in abundance throughout the workdays of 2016-2019.  I will definitely be ordering more of this.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Karatu AA

Method: French Press (35g coffee/500g water)

Light but jammy, very pronounced blackberry notes.  Like a pie just coming out of the oven.  This retains its fruitiness when brewed at a higher dosage (say, 41g coffee) and holds up well.  I got some brown sugar and baking spices.  Some slight sour plum on the finish.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Regalia Long Miles Gatukuza

Regalia is a roasting project of Paolo Maliksi operating out of Long Island City, here in Queens, NY.  I've known Paolo for a while, and I finally got around to trying some of his coffee last week.  This one was particularly interesting.  Super light bodied (even when brewed in a french press) with a very sweet profile--sweet as in white sugar.  And a pleasant, almost watermelon rind finish.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Ultimate French Press Technique

This is my new favorite french press method.  I've found that it really forces me to slow down (even more), and it produces a very clean and tasty cup of coffee while also using less beans.. Very good.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Harbingers of Spring--

No matter that you have to buy them from a farmer wearing protective gloves and a mask at the moment, or that spending $5 for a bunch of these feels awkward after stopping in the middle of a hike to forage what seemed like an entire field of them in the Catskills last year...  It warmed my heart to chop these up and toss them into a frittata this morning.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Red Cloud

Spending a lot of time at home lately, I'm getting the chance to dig through my tea stash.  I lucked out and found some of this delicious black twisted leaf tea from Yunnan left over from last year..  This is a very unique tea and for a black tea it behaves really well when brewed gongfu style.  The nose is gingerbread, nutty, with a little of that Yunnan barnyard quality.  The tea brews a gorgeous orange-red color, with a flavor profile somewhere between a malty Assam and a citrusy, juicy Darjeeling.

Friday, April 3, 2020

High Mountain Shan Lin Xi Roasted - In Pursuit of Tea

This is a light-roasted Nantou oolong.  Beautiful sungold color.  Silky mouthfeel.  Floral nose with an almost licorice nudge to it--maybe it's the charcoal roast.  Held up well and mellowed out nicely over many infusions.  For fans of Tieguanyins and Tung Tings.

From In Pursuit of Tea:
"Hailing from evergreen-covered peaks nearly 5,000 feet in elevation, this Taiwanese oolong tea is nurtured under unique conditions: Cool nights and frequent fog result in slower leaf growth, which encourage distinctive balsam notes and a rich fragrance to develop. After being hand-picked, the leaves undergo slight oxidization during a careful rolling process, and are finished with a light roasting. Once infused, note the sweet aromas of plum jam and sundried tomato that emerge; bright, green flavors shine beneath the delicate, yet structured, charcoal roast. The body deepens over subsequent infusions, opening with savory hints of butter and mushroom. Enjoy several rounds to appreciate the dynamic nature of these leaves."


San Pedro Yosotatu - George Howell

This delicious light roast was my first experience with a Mexican single-origin coffee.  I found it to be pleasantly limey while still rooted in a nice milk chocolate flavor profile.  Maybe even chocolate-covered pineapple?  Juicy and fresh.  Based on the aroma when I opened the bag, I expected the coffee to present as much lighter than it did.

From George Howell:

"Twenty to thirty farmers, mostly women, led by Madelina Lopez, came together around the community of San Pedro Yosotatu to produce small fine quality lots of the traditional Oaxacan Typica variety mixed with a little Bourbon. While not organic certified, they are using organic methods. A distinct Oaxacan coffee flavor profile emerges after being submerged in large lot regional blends for many years!"

Brew method: French Press
Water: 510g
Coffee: 40g

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Spinach Cooked in Butter

This is my new favorite way to cook spinach.  It's very simple, but really good.
Finely dice one large clove of garlic.  Set a cast iron pan on medium heat and add a knob of butter.  Sautee the garlic until quietly fragrant, add a pinch of chili flakes, then a fistful of spinach.  Salt and pepper.  Toss the spinach to coat with butter, and cook until wilted.  Then add some more spinach--you'll be surprised how much spinach you can cook in this manner.  Continue to add salt & pepper in small amounts as you add more greens to the pan.  Taste for seasoning and serve.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Ketogenic Chicken Soup

Roasting a chicken is pretty much a weekly tradition in this household--I like making soup from the leftovers.  It's Spring and I want leeks, onions, garlic in just about everything.

leftover meat from a roast chicken, picked into small bits, about 1qt
good homemade chicken broth, 2qts
olive oil, about 2tbsps, maybe more
onion x 1, chopped
leeks x 3, chopped
garlic x 4 cloves, finely chopped
red pepper flakes x 1tsp
thyme x 2 sprigs
bay leaf x 1
parsley x 1 handful, chopped
kale (preferably lacinato) x 1 bunch, destemmed & chopped
squeeze of lemon juice
parmesan cheese

Wash the leeks--remove the dark green tops, slice the remaining leeks in half lengthwise, and then slice them.  Submerge in a bowl of cold water and let them soak for 10 minutes to remove the silt.  Gently raise the leeks from the water without disturbing them too much and dry them in a strainer.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven.  Add the onion & leeks, season with salt and black pepper, and sautee gently until softened.  Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme, and bay leaf and stir for about 1 minute.  Add the chicken stock, raise the heat until things start to bubble, then lower it to a simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the kale and a nice pinch of salt, some more black pepper.  After about 5 minutes, add the chicken.  After another 5 minutes, add the parsley.  Let everything meld for another 5 minutes, check the seasoning, then serve.  Add a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of olive oil, and grated parmesan to each bowl.

Frittata of the Day #10

Broccoli, red onion, chicken sausage.