I just had my ten year high school reunion. TEN YEARS! Hard to believe. But it was wonderful to be back, so nice to see old friends and revisit old haunts. And our school is such a pretty, pretty place.
My first mission, of course, was to march over to the dining hall with my friend Chelsea and see if we could track down the blondies they used to serve. Back in the day (only a wee 10 years ago) they had these delicious, big, golden-brown blondies that were pretty much the best thing ever. I was hoping they’d still have them and that I could steal the recipe. And while they did have them, sadly, they were not the blondies of my youth. Just not at all the same. But I still happily accepted their offering, loving the fact that they were still making a version for students all these years later.
I tried taking a stab at it and making my own. They’re not as good as the blondies I remember, but they’ll make due for now.
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
2 eggs, room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaping cup chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350. Grease an 8x8 tin and set aside.
Beat the butter. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and mix to combine. Add the chocolate chips and mix just until incorporated.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, until golden and set.
Best enjoyed with friends, nostalgia, and a tall glass of milk.
Gather Journal - Rough Cut, Spring/Summer 2013, out now!
This past weekend was a dream. I went to the James Beard Awards! Gather had been nominated for Visual Storytelling and I went along with the crew. I am still pinching myself.
I still can’t even believe I was there. Just the idea of attending the JBF awards seemed unreal. Like something you hear about in culinary school but don’t actually get to do. I mean, Beard on Food was one of the first culinary art books I ever purchased. My friends and I recited “consider the onion” throughout my senior year of college. I even read passages aloud to them (reading aloud, I will have you know, is reserved for Moby Dick and James Beard passages only, it is a very elite twosome.) But off I went! In my brown leather dress and my very favorite navy blue heels. Did I manage to get even one picture of myself that night? No. I was far too busy enjoying myself, drinking wine and pretending to pick at my three course dinner.
It was all so exciting. I mean, Gotham Hall! Ted Allen hosting! Eyeing Martha across the room! A little seating card with my name on it! All unreal. And then came our moment, Marcus Samuelsson presenting….
So deserved. Michele and Fiorella and the entire Gather team are the most talented group of people I know. I am so humbled to know them, let alone get to be a part of what they’re creating and dreaming up. Which only gets better and better.
I introduce to you, spring and summer, issue #3, Rough Cut:
Pick up a copy! Movies and food. Potatoes and Feet. Cats and Chickens. It’s awesome.
One of my favorite parts of my job is that I’m always out and about, cooking new things and looking for the most beautiful ingredients. And even better- sometimes, there are leftovers!
Earlier in the week I was in NYC, my home away from home. I was at the Union Square Greenmarket looking for pretty greens and herbs for my shoot. Thankfully, my favorite vendor with the most beautiful greens, lettuces and herbs was there. I seek out their spinach every spring because it is truly unlike any other spinach on the planet. It’s tender and sweet and absolutely gorgeous. Luckily, there was a bit leftover after the shoot and I was able to take some back to Boston with me.
This spinach is truly too nice to do much cooking with. Other than a quick steam or saute, it would really just be a waste! So I decided to make a salad. I had a jar of homemade pickled ramps on hand and some sunchokes in the fridge, so there was my delicious salad.
Sunchokes (jerusalem artichokes) are a really lovely thing. They look kind of like a knotty potato, but are much less starchy and have a really nice, nutty, mildly sweet flavor. Definitely an item worth seeking out if you haven’t had them before.
Spinach and Sunchoke Salad (for two!)
couple handfuls sunchokes (15 or so)
1 bag best quality baby spinach you can find
good handful yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, halved and sliced
6 pickled ramps, thinly sliced, and a few spoonfuls of their pickling liquid
1 small lemon, halved and juiced
Preheat the oven to 425. Thinly slice (1/8-1/4”) the sunchokes. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and give them a toss. Spread out evenly on a baking sheet so that they’re in a single layer. Roast, tossing halfway through, until golden and tender, about 30 minutes or so.
Top the spinach with the cherry tomatoes, sliced avocado and roasted sunchokes. Scatter the pickled ramps over the salad and drizzle with a few spoonfuls of pickling liquid, the lemon juice and a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with a bit of flaked sea salt and serve immediately! This one’s as pretty as it is delicious.
I had the amazing good fortune to work on Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook, It’s All Good, last summer. Such an amazing project. Such an amazing group of people. We were camped out in Amagansett for the duration of the shoot, so the days started with a morning swim
and the evenings were spent sharing big, home-cooked meals out on the patio.
Sometimes I had to pinch myself to remember- this is a job- and as some of my NYC colleagues would say, we were here to work! But there are endless reasons this job was one of my all-time favorites. The lovely crew, our beautiful surroundings, just being a part of the GP team was a dream. And I have to say, this is one of the very few projects that I’ve worked on where I feel like I am better for it, I can’t wait for it to release, and I can’t wait to make the recipes in my own kitchen.
Now, I am not the type of person that is generally interested in ‘healthy’ or ‘low-fat’ cooking. I think diets are a bunch of garbage. I think food should be enjoyed. I think ice cream is a staple of any proper, balanced diet. And I generally just hate the conversation that revolves around ‘healthy cooking’. More often than not it’s laden with guilt, body shaming, and a such a narrow focus on what it healthy should be/look like/weigh, it makes me want to scream.
That having been said, I always want to be healthy. I always want to be cooking food that’s good for me. And I also think that what and how we eat says a lot about who we are. And this book inspired me to be better; use ingredients that I might not otherwise; think a little bit more about what I’m eating; be sure that there are lots of fresh, simple things around the kitchen so I can always throw something that’s easy and healthy together in a pinch. And that’s pretty awesome.
This was only reinforced by the amazing group I was working with. All so talented. All so fun. And all with a serious eye and taste for food. I will be forever grateful to have been able to work with such incredible talented, lovely, smart, kind people.
So while I know, I’m a bit biased, I honestly think this book is a great tool. If you’re looking to do some more cooking at home and get healthy in the process do check it out. One of my favorite summer recipes is for a faux banana ice-cream. Just slice and freeze some bananas, then blitz them in a food processor or blender with some almond milk and puree until smooth. So yummy, so refreshing and so healthy. It has the consistency of soft-serve. Yum. (Rad.)
Thanks, GP. Here’s to many more banana-almond smoothies and hopefully many more bonfires and grilled snappers on the beach.
I think we should all just take a look at the beautiful daffodil field blooming in the forest…
I also think you should all make this stew. It’s warm and comforting, but still really light and has a little kick from the poblanos.
Chicken Stew with Roasted Poblanos, Tomatillos and Fresh Corn
2 large poblanos, washed and dried
1 white onion, peeled and cut into wedges
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 lb tomatillos (6-8) husked, washed and dried
1 whole chicken, cut into 6-8 pieces (your butcher can do this for you)
2 cups chicken stock
3 ears corn, kernels cut off the cob
s+p, to taste
Heat your broiler. Lay out your poblanos, garlic and onion wedges on a sheet tray in an even, single layer. Broil until roasted and charred on both sides. Set the onion and garlic aside and place the poblanos in a bowl and cover with saran wrap.
Put the tomatillos on the sheet tray and place back in the oven, again, cooking until both sides are blackened and charred.
Chop the onions and finely chop the garlic. Peel, stem and seed the poblanos and cut into small dice.
Heat a good splash of olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan. Season the chicken generously with s+p. Brown the chicken, in batches, until golden and crispy on all sides. Set aside.
Add the roasted vegetables to the pot and saute for a minute or two. Return the chicken to the pot, add the chicken stock and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cover with a lid. Gently simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes. Remove the lid and add the corn, cooking until tender, about another 5 minutes. Check seasoning.
Serve piping hot. With lots of cornbread, obviously.
with a bit of butter, hot out of the oven…
I am so glad spring is finally here. Each ray of sun makes me happier than the last, and it also makes me realize how long it’s been since I’ve actually seen the sun. Crocuses are poking their way up through the leaves and the Red Sox are back at Fenway- springtime in Boston has begun!
Unfortunately, the farmer’s market isn’t back yet. But there are signs of spring everywhere you look. And even more signs at my favorite place to buy food, Alderbrook Farm. I introduce to you their newest arrivals: Emma and Hettie.
It’s still too early for most spring produce, but Alderbrook had some gorgeous pea greens that were so light and tendril-y, I thought they looked and felt just like spring. So I got my hands on my other spring favorite- artichokes. There are a couple of steps for this one, but once you prepare the artichokes it comes together really quickly.
Warm Artichoke and Pea Salad
1 shallot, finely chopped
couple spoons creme fraiche
1 cup petite green peas (thawed, or cooked if fresh)
handful pea greens
s+p, to taste
Start by preparing the artichokes. Trim the bottom of the stalk and tear off all of the tough, outer leaves until you get to the tender center. Seems like a lot of waste, I know, but the outer leaves are too tough to eat so make sure you get rid of all of them. Cut the top tough inch or so off the top of the leaves.
Place the prepared artichokes in a steamer basket and squeeze one of the lemons over the top. Toss in the lemon halves and bring to a boil. Cover and lower the heat, simmering until tender, about 30 minutes.
When cool enough to handle, cut the artichokes in half lengthwise. Scoop out the hairy hearts and any tough, smaller leaves. Discard the lemon.
Heat a bit of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat and add the shallot, cooking a few minutes, just until tender. Squeeze the remaining lemon into the saute pan and cook until the juice has reduced by about half. Add the creme fraiche and peas and gently heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place the artichoke hearts on a plate and spoon over with the pea mixture. Top with a nice handful of pea greens.
It was my mom’s birthday this weekend so the whole family was home to celebrate. With some beautiful mini grape hyacinths, a side of salmon, and some ice-cream and cake, and we had a birthday celebration.
My mom requested cauliflower and lentils, something I make with regularity. It’s been a favorite of mine since college when lunch at The Vegan Cafe was the only dining option I actually liked. They made a very similar dish at least a few times a week and it was my favorite. This is my riff, easy and delicious, and super healthy to boot.
Roasted Cauliflower with Onion and Lentils
1 head cauliflower
2 small onions
1/2 cup dried lentils (brown or de puy)
s+p, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400. Quarter and core the cauliflower. Break into florets and cut the larger florets into bite-sized pieces. Thinly slice the onions. Drizzle the cauliflower and onions with olive oil and season generously with s+p. Toss together and spread out evenly on two baking sheets.
Bake until tender and charred, about 30-40 minutes, tossing halfway through. While the cauliflower and onions bake, cook the lentils. Bring about 3 cups of water up to a boil. Add the lentils and gently simmer until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain. Toss with a few glugs of olive oil and set aside until the vegetables have finished roasting.
Toss the roasted vegetables with the lentils and season to taste with salt and pepper.
With our pea shoot salads, salmon fillet and roasted yams, it was a spring feast. So glad it has finally arrived…
Happy Birthday, Mom! Spring came just for you!
So excited to have been a part of this! Wonderful project with a wonderful crew.
Gather Journal- nominated for a James Beard Foundation award!