Lavender Shortbread Cookies

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One of my roommates and I wanted to make rosewater shortbread cookies for Valentine's Day (aka Galentine's day!) but when we got to the health food store to buy rosewater the store didn't carry it. BUT they did have lavender oil and flowers. So, a happy accident happened and we ended up with some of the best cookies I've ever had/made. I also made these for another occasion but used them as the cookies for ice cream sandwiches with coconut ice cream and wow they were just wow.

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon lavender flowers

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil (used as courier oil for the lavender oil)

2-4 drops lavender oil

Extra sugar and lavender flowers for garnish

Parchment paper

Heart cookie cutter

Method:

  1. Mix flour, salt, and lavender flowers in a large bowl.

  2. Pour olive oil into small bowl, put 2 drops of lavender oil. Taste with pinky, if it doesn’t taste very strongly of lavender add one more drop but be careful not to make the mixture bitter. Mix oils well.  

  3. In a separate bowl, beat lavender/olive oil mixture, sugar and butter together with electric beaters until smooth. Add the flour mixture until just combined. Pick up the dough, roll it into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for a few hours.

  4. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Separate dough into smaller portions of dough. Sprinkle flour on your rolling surface, then roll out dough. Cut out hearts with cookie cutter; cut dough into thick slices. Place the hearts on the cookie sheet, an inch apart and sprinkle sugar and lavender flowers in the center of each cookie. Before baking, place the cookie sheet with heart cookies in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.

  5. Take the cookie sheet out of the freezer and bake for 10-13 minutes but continually check on them, noticing if the edges are browning. Once the edges are slightly golden, take cookies out and chill for a few minutes on wire racks. 


Note: recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks rosewater shortbread recipe

Mini Egg Galettes

photo by Jessica Chappe

Galettes are an easy and elegant dish that can be served as a savory or sweet meal for basically breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert! How versatile. I was inspired one night in my quest to decide what to make for dinner by Ottolenghi's Jerusalem cookbook. There is a recipe for a similar egg galette that requires puff pastry and only yields one large galette. I wanted to make special little galettes that each of my roommates could enjoy. I served them with a simple green salad.

Ingredients:

For the dough –

4 cups of flour

2 sticks of  unsalted butter

2 eggs

2 tsp salt

6 tbsp. water

For the filling –

1 ½ cup grated parmesan

½ cup of goat cheese

Handful of cherry tomatoes

Half a red onion

4 eggs

Olive oil

Brown sugar

Rosemary

Salt

Pepper

Method:

  1. Dough – preheat oven to 400 F. Mix flour in a bowl with cold cubes of butter. Once mixed add the salt, eggs, and water, and thoroughly mix with your hands until you have a ball of dough. Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for around half an hour.

  2. Crusts – split the chilled dough into 4 separate smaller balls of equally sized dough. Roll out each ball so that it is flat but not so that it is too thin. In the center of each rolled out crust, spread goat cheese and sprinkle parmesan, crack pepper, sprinkle salt and rosemary. Fold the edges of the crust in so that small walls are made around the center and so that there is room to crack the egg later. Grease baking sheet. Transfer crusts onto cooking sheet and cook crusts for 14-18 minutes.

  3. Veggies – chop tomatoes and onion and sauté them so that the tomatoes are just a little soft and so that the onions are caramelized. Sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar onto the sauté along with a little salt, pepper, and rosemary

  4. Togetherness! Take the par-baked crusts out of the oven. Crack the eggs into each crusts. Put the sautéed veggies around the edges of the cracked eggs. Slide the baking sheet back into the oven and bake for 7-10 more minutes but check them frequently to make sure that they are not burning and that they are keeping their form.

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Raspberry Lemon Thyme Hand Pies

I made these hand pies with some friends on a frigid February night this winter. Paired with tea, chocolate, and a dance party, they were perfect. Definitely be patient and let these little pies cool before consuming. If not the filling gets scorching hot and you will singe your tongue, which will prevent you from tasting your creation!  

Ingredients:

Crust:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

 2 tablespoons sugar

 1 teaspoon salt

 2 sticks unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces

1 eggs (for brushing)

Turbinado sugar (for sprinkling on top)

Filling:

3 spoonfulls of raspberry jam

3 sprigs of thyme

Juice from half of a lemon

Pinch of brown sugar

Method:

  1. Put flour in a bowl. Cut cold pieces of butter into the flour. Put in the salt and sugar. Combine mixture with your hands! Such a nice feeling

  2. Once combined and the pieces of butter are pea sized, sprinkle ½ cup (or however much you need to form the dough) of ice water over the batter. Use a stiff spatula to mix together. Form the dough into a ball with your hands; it will be sticky. Put it in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or more if needed.

  3. While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 375 F and mix the jam, lemon juice, thyme, and sugar together in a bowl. Taste it!

  4. After the dough has been thoroughly chilled, take it out of the plastic wrap and place onto a floured surface. Separate the dough into 15 little balls of dough. Roll out the little ball with a floured rolling pin. With a spoon, spread a little of the jam mixture onto the edge of the rolled dough leaving room so you can fold the dough over the jam. Now fold the dough of the edge with the jam. Use a fork pointed down to close the hand pie but lightly pressing into the edge of the dough all the way around the semi-circular unbaked hand pie.  

  5. Place the baby pies onto a greased cookie sheet (parchment paper works too). Spread beaten egg onto the surfaces of the hand pies. Sprinkle little bits of turbinado sugar onto the pastries. Bake for up to 25 minutes but check the pies frequently to see if they’re browning.  

  6. When the hand pies are golden brown on the top, take them out and cool them on a wire rack.

  7. Serve pies with extra raspberry jam, lemon, thyme mixture.

 

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Sweet Potato Lentil Dal + Tribute to The First Mess

I have to admit, this is not an original recipe but it is a favorite dish of mine from my favorite food blog. The First Mess is a cooking blog created by Laura Wright and it focuses on vegan and gluten free recipes. The reason I love this blog and Laura's recipes so much is because they are bursting with spices and flavors and are made with amazing and fresh ingredients. Laura Wright invents creative and healthy meals that are extremely delicious and honestly inspiring to me as someone who cooks a lot and who has dairy issues. I still use dairy in my baking but I move away from it in my cooking because it makes me feel icky and I can only eat it in small quantities. So here is a wonderful and nourishing meal that is easy and really really tasty.

dal ingredients:
2-3 tsp coconut oil

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

pinch of chili flakes

1 cup red lentils

1 sweet potato, peeled and diced small

1 two inch piece of ginger, peeled + minced

 1 tsp dried turmeric powder)

3 1/2 cups filtered water + extra if necessary

salt to taste

coconut leeks ingredients:
2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil

1 leek, white and light green part julienned

squeeze of lime juice

pinch of salt

to serve:

cooked black, wild, or brown rice

chopped parsley

Method:

1. Place a large pot over medium heat. Heat up the coconut oil in the pot and add the ground coriander, mustard seeds and chili flakes. Stir about until the mustard seeds start to pop just a little bit.

2. Add the lentils, diced sweet potato, ginger, turmeric, and a pinch of salt. Stir the whole mixture to combine/coat in oil. Add the filtered water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the mixture is creamy and soupy, stirring occasionally. The sweet potato pieces should still be intact with a tiny bit of bite. The lentils will be broken down, filling out the mixture. Add more water if you need to. Keep it warm while you sauté the leeks.

3. Heat the coconut oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the leeks to the pan and sauté until leeks are soft and very fragrant. Season with salt. Add a squeeze of lime if you like. Remove from the heat.

4. To serve: divide the hot dal over 4 portions of rice. Top the dal with sautéed leeks and a few dribbles of the coconut oil left in the pan. Garnish each serving with the chopped parsley.

*Go here for original recipe and photos: http://www.thefirstmess.com/2014/12/11/sweet-potato-carrot-dal-with-coconut-leeks-and-a-wine-country-ontario-giveaway/

 

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Spring Farro Salad

photo by Jessica Chappe

I cook with veggies and grains a lot but and it inevitably gets a little boring. Farro is my favorite grain and I like to get creative with what spices and ingredients I use with it. The last time I made this salad was on a particularly hot evening. My roommates and I ate it on our back porch while bugs bit our legs in the humid night air. The salad was perfectly light and we welcomed the spring with each bite.

Salad:

1 cup farro

2 cups chicken stock

Rosemary

Two clove of garlic

Honey

Salt

Pepper

Red chili flakes

1 bunch broccolini

1 shallot

3 carrots

Handful of red grapes

Handful of mint

Handful of parsley

2 handfuls of arugula

Sesame seeds

Dressing:

Tablespoon olive oil

Juice of half a lemon

Spoonful of honey mustard

¼ teaspoon honey

1 clove of garlic

Pinch of turmeric

Pinch of pepper

Pinch of salt

Recipe:

1. Farro cooking – heat the pot and drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil into the empty pot. Pour the farro and toast it in the olive for a little. Add rosemary and salt. Pour in the two cups of chicken stock. Let boil, turn down to simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes but check the farro continually to see if the farro had become tender. When the farro is tender but still has a bit of bite, drain the water then transfer the farro back into the pot. Cover and leave to sit.

2. Sauté – wash the broccolini and chop off the ends. Chop shallots. Transfer both to a pan. Drizzle with olive oil, turn on heat to medium high. Crush garlic cloves into pan with salt and pepper. Once the veggies start to sizzle sprinkle with rosemary and turn heat down to low. Drizzle honey on the veggies. Cook the veggies until they’re golden brown. Pour the mixture into the farro pot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix together.

3. Wash carrot. Grate the carrots with a carrot peeler so that you create long and flat carrot ribbons.

4. Wash parsley and mint and chop both into small leaves.

5. Wash red grapes. Slice the grapes in half.

6. In a large bowl, mix together arugula, grapes, carrot ribbons, farro with veggies, and the chopped mint and parsley.

7. In a small bowl mix together the lemon juice and olive oil. Wisk with a fork then add the honey mustard and honey. Wisk again and then add the turmeric, salt, pepper and crushed garlic. Taste and pour over the salad.

8. Top salad with sesame seeds and serve.

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Banana Bread Granola Bars

photo by Jessica Chappe

This is a recipe that I made a lot last year when I was living in the dorms at Bard. I went to the cafeteria and loaded up on bananas, granola, and peanut butter and then smashed them all together with coconut oil and chocolate, baked them and shared them with my friends and professors. It is recipe that I've slightly adapted from my favorite blog The First Mess. After making these again in a kitchen where I have more control than I did in a dorm kitchen, I've realized that these bars are equally great warm or refrigerated. When you pop them in the refrigerator the coconut oil congeals and creates a fudge-like texture but they're vegan!

bars:
3 way-way ripe, regulation-sized bananas, peeled
3 tbsp almond butter (any nut or seed butter you love will do)
1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil + extra for greasing the pan
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
3 cups simple granola
1/4 cup chopped dried fruit
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate 

chocolate drizzle:
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate
splash of almond milk
1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×11″ or an 8×12″ pan with coconut oil. Lay a piece of parchment into the pan (with overhang on the sides) and grease that with more coconut oil. Set aside.

2. Combine the bananas, almond butter, coconut oil, cinnamon and sea salt with your hands. Try to get the mixture to achieve an extra creamy texture. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine granola, dried fruit, and chocolate. Stir to mix. Add the creamy banana mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Scrape the granola bar mix into the prepared pan. Smooth the mix out, pressing down with a flat surface (measuring cup, spatula) until the mix has evenly filled the pan. Bake the bars for 40 minutes or until golden on the edges/top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool thoroughly on a rack.

4. Once completely cool, lift the bars out of the pan with the overhanging parchment onto a cutting board. If you still feel residual heat emitting from the bars, allow them to cool down on the rack some more. Once ready, cut the slab right down the middle lengthwise. From here, cut the two halves into 8 bars each.

5. In a double boiler/non-reactive pan set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, combine the chocolate drizzle ingredients. Stir constantly with a spatula until chocolate is melted and a sauce forms. Drizzle over the cut granola bars. Refrigerate bars until chocolate is solidified, about 30 minutes. Keep the bars in a sealed container for about a week.

Note: Adapted from http://www.thefirstmess.com/2013/09/19/banana-bread-granola-bars/

 

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Mango Coconut Brown Rice with Ginger Soy Maple Chicken

This dish was inspired by mango sticky rice. Although it is quite a delicious dish, I don't like all the added sugar so I tried to create a slightly more healthy version. The maple-soy-ginger dressing that I used for the chicken has become an integral part of our house; when we served it with another dish recently, a friend of ours drank that sauce out of a bowl. This is a surprisingly easy dish to make and the flavors are so satisfying. 

Ingredients:

Rice:

1 cup brown rice

½ cup unsweetened full fat coconut milk

Half of a mango

Asparagus

Sesame seeds

Handful of raw cashews

Salt

Turmeric

Chicken:

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 inch piece of ginger chopped small

Coconut oil for sautéing

2 cloves of garlic

½ teaspoon soy sauce

¼ teaspoon maple syrup

Salt

Pepper

Method:

  1. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil in the sauce pan and toast your brown rice. Pour in 2 cups of water and half a cup of coconut milk. Let boil then toss in a nice helping of salt and a few shakes of turmeric for color. Turn the heat down to simmer and let cook.

  2. Chop your mango into small chunks of pulpy, juicy deliciousness.

  3. Wash and chop your chicken breasts into small chunks.

  4. In a medium sized bowl combine maple syrup, soy sauce, chopped ginger. Mix and crush garlic into the mix. Sprinkle salt and pepper into the marinade. Put the chunks of chicken into the marinade and let sit for a little. Sauté the chicken in the marinade until well cooked.

  5. When your rice is done, mix your chopped mango in.

  6. Chop raw cashews up a bit and mix them into the rice as well.

  7. Wash and snap off the ends of your asparagus. Slice them from the bottom into thin round rings.

  8. Serve your rice and chicken with toasted sesame seeds and slice asparagus on top.

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Chocolate Almond Soufflé Cake

This is my go-to cake. Last summer I wanted to make my mom a special birthday cake so I asked my godmother for a recipe suggestion - she loves to bake and this is her go-to recipe. It is originally from The Cuisine of California Cookbook by Diane Rosen Worthington, but I adapted it slightly. When I made it for my mom, I served it with little scoops of rose germanium ice cream and earl grey ice cream. The flavors of the ice cream melted into the seriously chocolate cake and created harmony. It is pretty easy to make and everyone loves it. I've now made this for four birthdays! The last time I made it was on a very hot day and I kept it on the cake stand out of the fridge for a while before serving and the heat really changed the texture of the cake. It was still delicious but not as firm as I would have liked it so be wary of temperatures around this cake - it is very delicate and very perfect.

Ingredients:

Cake:

3 tablespoons almond flour

6 ounces semisweet chocolate

¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter

 4 eggs, separated

¾ cup sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

Pinch cream of tartar

Handful slivered almonds

1 small berry! (raspberry, mulberry, strawberry…)

Glaze:

6 ounces semisweet chocolate

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

½ teaspoon olive oil

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut a round piece of wax paper to fit into your 8 inch cake pan. Butter and flour the pan. Place the round piece of wax paper in the bottom of the pan.

  2. In the top part of a double boiler, melt together chocolate and butter above the hot water on low heat. Leave until melted, stirring occasionally. Let cool.

  3. In a mixing bowl, beat egg yolks until frothy. Slowly add sugar and beat until light, think, and lemon colored.

  4. Add chocolate mixture to yolk mixture and blend well. Stir in both flours.

  5. In a medium bowl, beat egg whites with a pinch of salt and cream of tartar until stiff with little peaks.

  6. Blend 1/3 of the egg whites into chocolate to lighten the mixture. Fold in the remaining egg whites leaving no streaks in the mixture.

  7. Pour mixture into cake pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until outside is firm and interior is slightly underdone but not runny. A tester should come out slightly wet. Cool in pan and then unmold on a cake rack or a flat plate.

  8. For the glaze melt the remaining butter and chocolate in the top part of the double boiler on low heat. Once melted, stir in the olive oil. Let cool.

  9. Pour glaze over cake and smooth over top and sides of the cake with a flat spatula.

  10. In a small pan toast the almonds for garnish on the cake. Decorate the cake with the almonds and your chosen berry, keep in the refrigerator or a cool spot before serving. If you keep it in the fridge make sure to take it out an hour before serving.

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Skillet Eggs with Veggies and Chickpeas

photo by Jessica Chappe

My sister recently bought our house a new cast iron skillet which made me extremely happy. I've been making tons of skillet creations since she brought it home and this one was my favorite. I love that a skillet creates a different flavor and texture to the food you're cooking in it than a normal frying pan does - sometimes a frying pan just doesn't cut it for me. Here's to skillets and eggs!

Ingredients:

Two spoonfuls of chickpeas

Half of a zucchini

Handful of cherry tomatoes

4 Asparagus

2 eggs

A quarter of an avocado

A few leaves of flat-leaf parsley

1 large clove of garlic

Rosemary

Chili flakes

Honey

Salt

Pepper

Method:

  1. Wash all of your veggies. Snap of the ends of your asparagus. Chops the asparagus into small rounds. Transfer the rounds in the skillet on low heat.

  2. Rinse your chickpeas and transfer them to the skillet as well. Sprinkle a bit of olive oil in the skillet and let the asparagus and chickpeas cook for a little before adding your other veggies. Crush garlic into the mixture, drizzle honey, and sprinkle chili flakes, salt and pepper as well.

  3. Slice your zucchini into small rounds (I used mini zucchini so the small rounds were inevitable) or small triangles. Once the chickpeas and asparagus are slightly tender transfer the zucchini into the skillet along with small cherry tomatoes. Re-spice the newly added veggies, you want the flavors to live throughout the ingredients. 

  4. Once the veggies and chickpeas are slightly browned and there is a sort of broth pooling in the pan, create opening for the eggs.

  5. Crack the eggs into the openings and let them cook in the veggies until the white are fully cooked.

  6. Chop parsley and avocado into small cubes. Pull the skillet off the fire and garnish the veggies with avocado slices and lay the parsley leaves over the egg yolks.

  7. Crack pepper and sprinkle a little salt over the creation and serve.

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Carrot-Turmeric Risotto with Pea Pesto and a Soft Boiled Egg

photo by Jessica Chappe

The idea for this risotto dish came from the recipe by Spanish cook Belén Vasquez-Amarowho created her Orange-Hued vegan Risotto for FvF Cooks in February. She makes a kale pesto and uses cumin in the risotto. I changed the ingredients up a little bit and added one of my favorite things - a soft boiled egg. The pea pesto is special because this summer I've been working at the Montgomery Place Orchards Farm stand where I've been learning so much about seasonal produce. I used sugar snap peas from the farm to make this delicious pesto. The sugar snap pea crop is now done at Montgomery Place but it was sweet while it lasted, and now its time for blueberries, fennel, apricots and soon tomatoes and peaches!

Ingredients:

Risotto:

1 ½ cup brown rice

4 eggs (or how ever many eggs are needed)

2-3 large carrots

Handful of leeks

1 large clove garlic

Chili flakes

Thyme

Rosemary

Turmeric

Salt

Pepper

Olive oil

Parsley (for garnish)

Pea Pesto:

Handful shells of sugar snap peas

1 tablespoon grated parmesan

Toasted pine nuts (or almonds)

1 medium sized clove of garlic

Half of a lemon, juice and zest

Pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Drizzle a bit of olive oil into a sauce pan and heat. Toast your brown rice for a minute or so in the hot oil and then quickly add your water. Salt the water, let it boil, cover and let simmer until the rice is cooked.

  2. Wash carrots and leek. Chop both and transfer to large frying pan. Drizzle with olive oil, add your rosemary, chili flakes, thyme, crushed garlic, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Once the carrots and leeks start to sizzle pour a cup of water into the pan and cover on low heat for 20 minutes. Once the veggies are soft and cooked, transfer to a blender and purée them into a creamy paste. Mix the creamy mixture into your cooked brown rice so that the rice is totally orange.

  3. For the pesto, combine the pea shells, garlic, salt, lemon juice, zest, parmesan, and nuts in a blender and blend till smooth.

  4. For the soft boiled eggs boil enough water so that when the eggs are placed in the water they are covered. Boil the water so that it is rapidly bubbling on high heat. Slowly place the eggs in the boiling water so that the shells don’t crack and set a timer for 6 minutes. Over the 6 minutes slowly turn the heat down and back up to high heat. When your timer goes off, quickly turn the heat off and transfer the eggs into ice water (it makes it easier to peel off the shells).

  5. To plate the risotto scoop a large spoonful of the risotto into a low bowl, flattening the center with a spoon so that there is a place for the egg. Once you’ve carefully peeled the egg place it in the center of the risotto and add a dollop of the pesto on top of the egg. Crack pepper onto the egg, sprinkle a little bit of lemon juice and add a sprig of parsley.

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Margherita Pizza with Homemade Sauce

photo by Jessica Chappe

I made this pizza for my family this summer when we were all together at our family cottage in Algonquin Park, Canada. Each night of the trip a different family member would make a special dinner for everyone. This was one of the dinners I crafted. I would have loved to have made the dough myself but time didn't really allow for that. I also was not able to make the pizza with fresh herbs or tomatoes - don't get me wrong it was still delicious but now being back in the Hudson Valley where perfect and sweet tomatoes are every where, I know that any and every pizza would be better with fresh, in season tomatoes and basil. I also wish I had cooked the egg so that the yolk was runny. My regrets are not major but in the recipe below you will notice the word fresh is listed a few times - I want to cook everything with fresh ingredients when it is all growing in the summer! My family and I all shared this pizza in the boathouse with wine, candles, kerosene lamps, and waning sunlight.

Ingredients:

Pizza:

Pizza dough

1 large fresh tomato

Fresh basil leaves

1 ball mozzarella di buffalo

Grated mozzarella

1 egg

Salt

Pepper

Sauce:

1 can diced tomatoes

Extra virgin olive oil

Lots of garlic! (5 or 6 large cloves)

Fresh oregano

Fresh rosemary

Herbes de Provence

Salt pepper

Method:

  1. To start the sauce pour a good amount of olive oil into the bottom of a large pot and crush your garlic into the oil. Chop your herbs and sprinkle them into the pot as well. Let the oil cook the herbs on medium low heat for a while until the oil is aromatic.

  2. When the herbs have infused the oil and the garlic is looking golden brown, pour in your can of tomatoes. Let the herby oil and tomatoes meld for around 40 minutes or until the sauce tastes good to you.

  3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. While the oven is heating up, start stretching out the dough on a floured circular baking sheet. Once the dough is nicely shaped to the baking sheet, spoon the pizza sauce across the dough. Sprinkle to grated cheese and arrange slices of the mozzarella di buffalo around the pizza in a circle. Place slices of tomatoes on top of the slices of mozzarella and lay a basil leaf on top of each of the tomatoes.

  4. Slide the pizza into the heated oven and bake for 18-20 minutes.

  5. Take the pizza out and crack the egg in the center, sprinkling salt and pepper over the egg before returning the pie to the oven. Back for another 5-7 minutes.

  6. Take the pizza out, slice, and eat!

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Kabocha Sage Squash Soup

photo by Jessica Chappe

Transitioning into fall cooking has turned my house into a squash soup kitchen! I've been cooking mostly with butternut squash, but my roommates got a kabocha squash for me when they were grocery shopping. I was a little hesitant to cook with it at first because of its hard shell (I had to slam it on the floor a few times to get it to slice open). But it might be my favorite of the squash of the pumpkin variety. It is a Japanese pumpkin, on the sweeter side and when it is roasted to its golden potential, the texture becomes a slightly buttery and soft. My sister harvested all the sage from her garden before the freeze so we had a plethora of sage leaves in the fridge and it was the perfect addition to this simple soup. 

Ingredients:

1 medium sized kabocha squash

Handful chopped sage leaves

Half diced white onion

3 cloves chopped garlic

1 stick unsalted butter

Veggie (or chicken) broth

Cheap white cooking wine

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the kabocha squash into four halves. It is a little tricky – I slammed the squash on the floor a few times to get it to be a little easier to slice open.

  2. Place the four halves on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place sage leaves on each of the squash halves. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, until the squash is tender when you stick a fork through the center of the squash.

  3. When the squash is golden brown and tender, take it out of the oven to cool for a littler. When cool enough to handle, scoop the roasted squash out of its shell into a bowl. Smash the roasted squash with a potato masher.

  4. In a large pot heat your butter. Once butter is nice and hot throw your sage, garlic and onions into the pot. Pour enough wine into the mixture so that the bottom of the pot is covered. Let the wine cook off.

  5. Once the onions are translucent and aromatic add your squash. Pour enough stock into the pot so that it surrounds the squash. Blend with an immersion blender. Add more broth as you blend so that the mixture becomes a thick liquid. Blend until smooth. Let the soup come to a boil. Serve hot and with crusty bread. 

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Summer Wax Bean Salad

photo by Jessica Chappe

I've been working in the kitchen of a very delicious and wonderful restaurant called Gaskins for about six months now. This salad was inspired by the abundance of the summer; it was a salad we were making there last month. Summer food is about keeping everything simple enough so that you can taste the season but also about bringing out the flavors, enhancing them. This is more of a demand than a suggestion, but please, GO TO THE FARMER'S MARKET, GO TO YOUR CLOSEST FARM STAND, BUY LOCAL, BUY FOR THE SEASON. This dish isn't special without the farmers who bring the ingredients out of the ground. 

Ingredients

1 quart of both yellow and green wax beans

1 quart of fresh summer baby heirloom tomatoes

Four or five strips of bacon

Cabbot seriously sharp cheddar

Fresh summer basil

1 lemon

Olive oil

Salt

Method:

1.     Clean and blanch the wax beans in salted boiling water for a minute or less and then plunge into ice water. Dry when done cooling in the water.

2.     Wash and slice your tomatoes into halves.

3.     Chop as much cheddar as you want to eat into little cubes to toss into the salad.

4.     Fry up your bacon till its cooked to crispy perfection. Cool and dry out the oil. Chop into little bits. 

5.     Wash and chop basil.

6.     Once you have all your salad components, that is, wax beans, cheddar, bacon bits, tomatoes, and basil, bring them together into a big bowl and amalgamate them with the olive oil, lemon juice, and a good amount of salt.

7.     Sit in the sun with some wine and enjoy. This salad serves 5 people nicely. 

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Corn and Mushroom Farrotto

Sometimes you just wake up with a recipe in mind. I was craving something creamy and savory, something that included corn, tomatoes, and basil. I love to make risotto and I also love farro. I hadn't made farrotto before but I really loved the outcome. Rice doesn't feel like the most natural grain to cook with or eat in the summer and farro was a nice change. I first learned how to cook risotto from The Art of Simple Food. In her risotto recipe, Alice Waters stresses the importance of using good stock. Unfortunately I didn't have any homemade stock on hand for this one but the last time I made risotto I used my own stock and it altered the flavor dramatically. This dish is still yummy without homemade stock but try it out with homemade stock if you can! 

Ingredients:

Handful of shitake and baby bella mushrooms

2 ears of sweet summer corn

Handful of sweet summer cherry tomatoes

2 small shallots

2 large cloves of garlic

1 cup farro

1 cup dry white wine

3 cups chicken or veggie stock

¼ cup grated parmesan

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Handful of basil

Salt

Pepper

Olive Oil

Method:

1.     Wash all of the veggie you’re using before you start cooking. Once you’ve washed the mushrooms, tomatoes, and basil, chop them all small. Shuck the corn and chop the kernels off the cobs. Chop you garlic unless you have a microplane or garlic press. Set the tomatoes and basil aside. In a pan, drizzle olive oil and garlic then toss in your corn and mushrooms. Salt them and cook them until tender and aromatic. Set aside.

2.     Dice shallots and toss them into a pot with olive oil. Once they’re getting a little toasty, pour in your farro to get it a little toasty as well – you want to get the farro a little brown, this takes a few minutes. Pour in your wine and stir.

3.     Once the wine has evaporated, pour in your stock in increments of one cup. Pour one cup in, wait till it evaporates, and then pour in the next cup. Stir continually.

4.     Once you’ve poured in your third cup and the mixture is creamy and has soaked up almost all of the liquid, stir in your corn, mushrooms, parm, and butter and salt and pepper to taste.

5.     Scoop into bowl and top with tomatoes and basil. Eat it up with sips of wine interspersed. 

 

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Fall Farro Salad with Roasted Delicata Squash, 8 Minute Eggs, and Tahini Dressing

photo by Jessica Chappe

I recently moved back to LA from the Hudson Valley after graduating from Bard. I miss the seasons quite a lot - especially fall. I arrived in LA in October to ninety degrees temperatures!! This was not the welcome home I was hoping for. I love to cook with the seasons - meaning to cook what is growing in the changing temperatures and earth. But to have the produce not mirror the climate is honestly really disorienting. In the hopes of simulating fall season for myself I created this salad. It didn't entirely work but the result was a pretty great salad including many of my favorite things. 

Ingredients:

Salad:

1 cup quick cook farro

1 medium-large sized delicate squash

3 leaves of curly kale

4 eggs

parmesan (for grating)

Dressing:

tahini

1 large clove garlic, chopped or crushed with a garlic press

lemon

olive oil

honey

salt

pepper

Method:

1.     Measure your farro out. Drizzle a bit of olive oil into your sauce pan and heat. Add your farro with and toast with salt for about 3 minutes. Add water. Let boil then simmer until soft with a little bit of chewy bite to it.

2.     Heat oven to 400 degrees. Wash your squash, dry. Slice into rings and scoop out the seeds and pulp with a spoon. Coat with plenty of olive oil and salt. Roast until golden brown and soft, 20-30 minutes.

3.     Bring a medium sauce pan half way full with water to a rapid boil. Delicately ladle your eggs into the water and time for 8 minutes. While the water is boiling prepare a bowl of ice water. After your six minutes quickly place your eggs into the ice water to stop the cooking. After a minute of socking take them out and take off their shells. Slice into quarters.

4.     Wash and destem your kale. Chop small with a sharp knife! Massage with lemon juice, olive oil, and salt to keep it tender.

5.     For dressing combine tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and honey. Make sure to mix the tahini into the less viscous liquids at an angle in a slow circular motion so that you don’t turn it into a paste. If this does occur, a tiny bit of cold water will help remedy your dressing.

6.     To combine, mix the farro and kale together with a bit more lemon juice. Top with your golden delicate rings and egg slices. Drizzle with your dressing and grate a good amount of parm on top. !Secret tip! Tahini and parmesan are best friends.

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Dave’s Really Stupendous, Ultra-Amazing, Basically Simple Spanish Tortilla de Potata by David Chappe

photo by Jessica Chappe

This is not my recipe to claim - it is my dad's. He passed away in 2001 from cancer when I was eight years old. Inevitably, I think about him a lot. Even though I was very young when he died, I still have strong memories of him cooking, reading to me, lying on my floor at night until my sister and I fell asleep, speeding through town in his Ford Taurus with Van Morrison playing... I feel very lucky to have inherited his enthusiasm for food (and cooking and eating and smelling and feeding). My dad was also a screenwriter and reader - two more special traits I am happy and gracious to have received from his soul. After he died my mom put together a cookbook of his recipes. From 1985-1986 he had a catering business that he called The Dostoyevski Catering Company  - menus from that business are organized in the cookbook. Other relics in the cookbook include Dave's Favomatic Linguine and Clam sauce, Grave Dave's Totally Amazing, Autumnal Tuscan Mushroom Soup, and Dave's Phenomenal Spectacular Unbelievable Salad Dressing. I made this tortilla recipe for some friends in August and it couldn't have been more "stupendous." Lots of love to my Scorpio daddy. 

In his words:

The first thing you should have on hand is a primo, really good and reliable, NON-STICK frying pan. If you don’t have one, don’t even try this recipe. Honest injun’, it wont work.

But if you do have one, get ready for some seriously good food.

1 good size yellow onion

1 big Idaho potato

five eggs

Kosher salt (this is important)

Cooking oil

Slice the onion and the potato. If you have a Cuisinart, this is the time to get out the old slicing blade. The object is to make the potato and onion slices thin, because they’re going to be cooked together, and they have to be done cooking at the same time.

When you have them sliced, toss them together in a bowl and sprinkle with Kosher salt.

Meanwhile, have your cooking oil heating up on the stove. When its hot enough, drop in your onion and potato. Please make sure you have enough oil to cover everything. Even cooking is important. Stir a lot during cooking.

When the onions and potato mixture is cooked, drain the oil and set the onions and potatoes aside,

Scramble the eggs, and sprinkle with Kosher salt, and a very little pepper to taste. When the onions and potatoes are very well drained, dump them into the eggs and gently mix them together. Let the egg/onion/potato mixture sit for five minutes.

Drizzle a very small amount of olive oil into your non-stick pan frying pan. When the pan is hot, pour in your egg-mixture. Using a gentle, circular motion, rock the frying pan back and forth, to insure even cooking, and prevent the thing from sticking to the pan.

Using your spatula, bring the edges of the tortilla away from the frying pan sides, both as a check for brownness, and to prepare for the flip.

When the bottom side of your tortilla is sufficiently browned, it’s time to flip it. Place a large plate over the frying pan, and turn the pan upside down onto the plate.

The tortilla should pop right out, onto the plate. Now, slide the tortilla back into the frying pan, uncooked side down, and using your spatula, tuck in the sides all around.

Go back to your gentle, circular, rocking of the frying pan. When the bottom side of the tortilla is browned as the top, flip it out onto the plate, using the same plate-over-the-top method.

Voila. Couldn’t be more simple. Let it cool for a spell and serve in slices, or cut up in cubes with tooth-picks, like they do in Spain.

 A word about oil. In Spain, they cook onion and potato in olive oil. This gives a heavy taste. I prefer some less dense vegetable oil, But you might experiment with mixing the oils.

Happy eating.

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Saffron Chickpea Stew with Tahini Lemon Sauce

photo by Jessica Chappe

Sometimes (hopefully more often than not), the ingredients in my cabinet give me an idea. I'll look into the cabinet while putting something away and notice a can of coconut milk or a little bit of orecchiette pasta and *bam* there's the seed for my idea. This stew came from a can of chickpeas in the pantry and my new obsession with saffron (too bad its an expensive obsession!). This is the kind of dish where you can just throw a bunch of good ingredients into a pot, leave them to mingle for a bit and return to a robust and juicy combination of flavors. If you don't have preserved lemon, that's not a problem but they add a nice and sort of unexpected zip to the mix. 

Ingredients:

Stew -

1 can chickpeas, washed

1 bunch lacinato kale, washed and stripped off the stem

2 cans fire roasted peeled whole tomatoes

Half white onion, sliced

Handful flatleaf parsley, chopped

3 cloves garlic, diced

3 preserved lemons, sliced

Pinch of saffron threads

Pinch chili flakes

1 teaspoon paprika

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Sauce

Tablespoon tahini

Half a lemon

1 clove garlic, crushed

Squeeze of honey

Salt

Pepper

As much cold water as you need to whisk the tahini till smooth

Method:

1. Open and pour the cans of tomatoes into a large bowl and crush the tomatoes with your hands.

2. Heat 2 table spoons of olive oil in a medium sized soup pot. Once your oil is hot enough, add the sliced onion and diced garlic and cook until translucent. Add your chick peas, a big pinch of salt, and chili flakes. Stir together and cook for a minute. Add tomatoes (and their juices), paprika, saffron, parsley and preserved lemons. Let the mixture come to a boil then turn down to a simmer.

3. Meanwhile, wash and chiffonade* your kale. Once the stew has been simmering for about twenty minutes, add the kale. Simmer for anywhere from another half an hour to an hour – the flavors will become richer the longer it cooks.

4. To make the tahini sauce, spoon your tahini into a small bowl and add a little cold water. Slowly (key word slowly!), whisk the water into the tahini in a circular motion in the bowl. Once smooth, add the lemon juice, garlic, honey salt and pepper. Mix together, you may need more water to get the tahini to be smooth again.

5. Serve stew hot with a heavy drizzle of the tahini sauce and plenty of thick crusty bread to soak up the juices!

*Here's how to chiffonade if you don't know how! https://food52.com/blog/10964-how-to-chiffonade-basil-or-any-leafy-herb

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Spring Fava Bean Tagliatelle with Mint, Pecorino, and Lemon

photo by Jessica Chappe

Fava beans can be a real deterrent when it comes to cooking for yourself. The beans are incased in not one, but two different kinds of shells! This means that it takes double the time to remove them from inside their extra safe packages. But once you've done the tedious work to get to the bright and soft beans inside, there is a level of satisfaction that is only part of the pay off. The other part is getting to enjoy their unique and special springtime flavor. The farmer's market this time of the year begins to pop with the greenest of spring treasure. Snap peas, English peas, asparagus, fava beans. Although mint grows in the winter in California as well (its hard to keep up with the seasons in a place where most things are always in season), it goes nicely with the spring greens. The lemon adds a really nice zing and brightness. 

Ingredients:

1 packet tagliatelle pasta

Half pound fava beans

Handful chopped mint

Zest of two lemons plus juice

4 medium sized cloves of garlic

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Sizeable nub of pecorino for grating

Method:

1. Fava beans: Boil water with a pinch of salt. Pop the beans of of their shells. Toss the beans in the boiling water for 1 minute. Have ice bath ready to blanched the beans. When cool enough, drain the beans in a colander. Poke each bean with a fork and delicately squeeze each bean from its tight casing.

2. Pasta: Boil another big pot of water with a hefty pinch of salt for the pasta. When rapidly boiling, toss noodles in. Cook for 8-10 minutes (or as the package directs). Have a pan ready for the pasta with a light glug and 4 crushed garlic cloves. Drain pasta in a colander, reserving roughly 1/3 cup of the pasta water. Heat the oil and quickly transfer pasta to pan with pasta water. Throw in your fava beans, lemon zest and juice. Heat in the pan until the water cooks off.

3. Serve hot with mint, lots of pecorino and cracked pepper.

 

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Cardamom Plum Galette 

photo above by Jessica Chappe photos below from my intstagram @moonbeam_kitchen

photo above by Jessica Chappe

photos below from my intstagram @moonbeam_kitchen

Since I was a kid, the beginning of summer was always marked by a first swim in the ocean. When I moved to the Hudson Valley to go to Bard, summer was marked by a first lake swim AND the harvesting of strawberries. The reverence for seasonal produce on the East Coast is different than that of the West Coast. In California most people don't think of the first peach as a sort of miracle. Tomatoes are around for most of the year, of course they are better in the summer, but the majority of people don't take the time to appreciate this fact. Having moved back to California from New York, I have a new found love for snap peas that are only in season for a few weeks even here. For strawberries that change flavor as the summer develops. And for plums that change color and sweetness as the heat of the summer ramps up. Here is a recipe ideal for sweet summer plums with a little pizzaz from my current favorite spice - cardamom.

Ingredients:

1 pound sweet juicy plums

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp brown sugar

½ tsp cardamom + a pinch for the crust

1 tsp corn starch

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

1 Tbsp turbinado sugar for dusting

Parchment paper

Method:

1. Put the flour, butter, salt, and a pinch of cardamom in a food processor and process for 5 seconds until the butter is in pieces. Add the ice water and process for 5 more seconds, just until the dough comes together; the butter should still be visible.

2. Empty food processor out on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. Roll out the dough into a 16-by-18-inch oval 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick. Transfer it to a large, heavy baking sheet. Chill the dough until firm, about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

3. While the dough is chilling, slice and pit plums. Combine with brown sugar, cardamom, corn starch, and vanilla paste in a bowl.

4. After the dough has chilled, take it out of the fridge and spoon the plum mixture into the middle of the crust. Fold the crust around the plums to creating a 2-inch border. Dust the crust with turbinado sugar. Bake for an hour. Let cool and eat! This would be delicious with ice cream, a dollop of mascarpone, whipped cream, or maybe even some cool yogurt sweetened with a little honey.

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