SUMMER TIME / RECIPE: SUNGOLD, CORN AND ROASTED ONION SALAD, July, 2016, Orient, NY

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All of a sudden it’s summer and things are growing! I’m not sure how
spring went by so fast… it seems like over night the farm went from
a brown/grey dirt patch to a lush bright green garden! It’s crazy how
many things and how much has grown just from Calvin and Peter working
the land – I must say I’m very impressed. Grass and weeds are
everywhere and we even have some food! Raspberries are popping up on
the bramble bushes – red, purple and yellow! Some veggies are ready to
pick – already made a salad from radishes, shallots and baby kale.
Meanwhile, the North Fork went from shuttered winter to open for
business summer. All the restaurants and attractions (aka the mini
golf place) are open and the summer crowds are coming out every
weekend. All the other farm stands are open for business and we
finally have a bounty of local produce – garlic scapes, kale, herbs
and hella zucchini. We’ve been making crazy fresh meals every night,
and on nights when we eat early enough ( we usually don’t eat till 10
pm) we even eat outside al fresco!

I have to say, I liked the North Fork in the winter but I love it in
the summer. It’s so nice to lounge by the pool or on the beach all day
and then just walk to the nearest farm stand to make dinner. It’ll be
even better in August when I can have Calvin pick our dinner from all
the veggies he grew himself!

Today I’m sharing a recipe I’ve already made several times this season
– sungold and corn salad. TBH almost none of the ingredients are
available locally (corn and tomatoes usually aren’t in season till the
end of the summer on Long Island) but its’ just so yummy and fresh I
can’t stop making it. It’s also a real crowd pleaser, super simple and
most importantly, can be made ahead of time! In the summer, I don’t
want to be in the kitchen for hours, I just want to have light and
simple meals that don’t require to much cooddeling. This is one of
those recipes.Though there are a few steps there are only a handful of
ingredients. This recipe is based off of one I read in Food52 a few
years back but I’ve tweaked considerably.

As per usual, recipe and farm photos below!

SUNGOLD, CORN AND ROASTED SUMMER SALAD ONION SALAD

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INGREDIENTS

3 ears of corn – sweet corn is preferable if you can find it
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 pint Sungold Tomatoes (those sweet little yellow guys), halved
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper

PREP

1. Boil water and set oven to 375 degrees F

2. Chop onion and spread out on a cookie sheet – cover with olive oil,
salt and pepper and roast for about 30 minutes – until pieces are
cooked and slightly brown. Let onions cool so they can be handles and
then place in a large bowl.

3. Shuck corn, snap or cut cobs in half and boil for three minutes.
Let cool then carefully cut kernels off the cob and throw into the
same bowl as the onions.

4. Add halved sungold and thinly sliced scallion.

5. dress with 1 tbs of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Eat
right away while slightly warm, keep out and enjoy at room temperature
or refridgerate and eat later. It’s all good!

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TOO BUSY TO BLOG / RECIPE: THE BEST AVOCADO TOAST, May, 2016, Orient, NY

Life has been pretty hectic lately. We’re getting busier every week at the restaurant and I’ve been swamped with tasks large and small. In the past month I’ve had to let go of one waitress and hire a new one (which is much harder than it sounds), work double duty as waitress and manager to cover shifts and train the new waitress, print new menus and update our POS system. On the home front, we’ve started hosting friends at the farm, and I’m still traveling back and forth to the city every week, and it was Passover (or as Calvin calls it, Jewish Thanksgiving).

I’m finding it harder and harder to sneak some alone time to do the things I love most – embroidery, cooking and writing this blog. Last week, I sat down for an hour to write what I hoped would be and epic post about our recent trip to Uruguay, but got so distracted by the urge to start wandering that again I started planning another trip (Uruguay post will come soon, promise). So this week I decided to tackle a little less distracting and time consuming topic, something light and simple that doesn’t require any new recipe testing.

I’ve been trying to reboot my eating habits – something about the cold weather makes me crave carbs and sugar. Now it’s warming up and I’m 5 lbs over my happy weight, so it’s time to get serious about my diet. Even though I made a delicious chicken pot pie last weekend and have perfected my clafoutis recipe (it’s a sorta healthy, totally delicious Provencal dessert), on the regular it’s greens, whole grains and organic meat and poultry.

I wanted to share a recipe that’s filling, healthy, and super simple to make. Avocado toast! I know, all you have to do is spread avocado on toast and you have a pretty dope meal, but I like to think I make THE BEST avocado toast. (I’ve been making it pretty much every other day) Plus everyone from Smitten Kitchen (one of my favorite food bloggers) to Gwenyth Paltrow (one of my least favorite celeb bloggers) has shared their take on this classic meal slash snack. Smitten Kitchen’s recipe is great, the lassic toast – avo, salt and red pepper flakes, and Gwyneth’s is just plain old wacky – avocado and almond butter, no thank you. With my recipe, greens and homemade shallot dressing take the dish from ordinary to extraordinary, a giant step above your average toast. And it’s easy enough and tasty enough to make and eat every day.

Recipe and some new farm photos below.

AVOCADO TOAST WITH BABY GREENS AND A SHALLOT VINAIGRETTE

Makes enough for two pieces of avocado toast – can feed one or two people depending on how hungry you are! (But you’ll have enough shallot dressing for at least two more toasts!)

INGREDIENTS:

2 pieces of Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Bread (you can use any bread but this is my favorite)
1/4 of a lemon
1 avocado
1 shallot
3 tbs olive oil
1 table spoon red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of oregano
freshly ground pepper
flaky sea salt
baby greens

PREP

1. Toast your bread to desired toastedness

2. Cut avocado in half, remove seed, scoop into a bowl. Squeeze lemon juice to prevent it from browning and mush together with a fork until smooth

2. On a cutting board, chop your shallot until roughly chopped, add salt, pepper and oregano and keep chopping until minced into a paste. Once it’s in a paste throw onto a jar and add olive oil and red wine vinegar and shake vigorously.

3. Spread avocado evenly on two pieces of toast. Take a handful of baby greens and sprinkle on top of avocado toast. With a spoon lightly dress your toasts – be sure to have a good amount of shallots all over! Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper and eat up!

FARM UPDATES / RECIPE: SLOW COOKER FRENCH ONION SOUP, April, 2016, Orient, NY

It’s been two months since Calvin moved to the farm and things are starting to come together! The boys –Calvin and his best friend Pete (who’s family farm Calvin is managing)– have been working double duty, setting up the farm during the day and renovating the house at night. The house, originally built some time in the 19th century, was moved a couple blocks from its original location and then renovated in the 1970s. The place is huge –you might’ve seen some pictures, three bedrooms, living room, dining room, den, sun room, green house AND pool! There are tons of windows, it’s incredibly bright and has amazing views of a (different) farm and the bay. But it is a little outdated – fake wood floors, wood paneling everywhere, dirty dirty stairs and sparkly peeling wallpaper in every other room. While cute and cozy the house wasn’t really our style and we – well, mostly entirely the boys – have been turning it into our little late 20s dream home!

The first space they tackled was the living room/dining room – the rooms where we spend most of our time. The first thing the boys did there was whitewashed the wood-paneled walls and floors – and it looks incredible. Getting the entire room painted took some time but once it was done the room was transformed into a bright, modern space. We then culled the furniture in the house and brought in a couple of our own pieces to make the space feel more like us. We kept the old cozy couches, church pews and a newly refurbished wooden dining table (thanks to Pete!) and added our Oriental and Mexican rugs and some plants (also thanks to Pete!). The house now has a shabby chic feel. It’s not done yet –there are still paintings and photographs and stuff to hang on the fresh white walls. We’ve reserved one corner for a gallery wall and another for the Monstera plant of my dreams. I’m only out there two-three days a week so I can’t pitch in as much as they’d/I’d like, but I do  have some little weekend projects for myself, including these honey comb shelves, painting the dirty stairs and making a cork board. It’s so much fun to witness the transformation in progress. I’m excited to participate more over the next few weeks.

Meanwhile on the farm, things are slowly but surely blooming. I have lent a hand out there, but only barely, maybe an hour a week, but hey, that’s more than anyone expected of me. I helped hoe, plant and water berry bushes, and put up tree guards. (Meanwhile, Calvin’s planted hundreds of bushes, chopped down trees and built a chicken coop. He wins at farming) This past weekend the peach and nectarine trees blossomed, an awesome sight. The boys planted their first few trays of seedlings and will be able to plant hella vegetables and herbs in a few weeks and then we can look forward to eating our own food! That’s really what I’m most excited about, all the vegetables I’m going to be able to cook, pickle and can.

This week I wanted to share with you my crazy easy recipe for slow cooker French onion soup. That’s right, the whole thing is made in a slow cooker and takes almost no effort to get restaurant quality soup –and I can say that because I own a restaurant. I like to start this recipe before I go to bed – let the onions caramelize overnight and then add the beef broth when I wake up in the morning. That way by the time I’m home from work (at least when I’m not working the dinner shift) all I have to do it ladle the finished soup into ovenproof bowls, top them with some toasted crusty bread and grated gruyere cheese, and pop them in the broiler. It’s a great recipe to make for a Friday night dinner party, or, on the weekends when we entertain friends all day and don’t want to worry about making dinner. This super simple recipe is sure to wow and please a crowd.

ALSO, don’t toss those leftovers; save them for a slow braise later on in the week.

SLOW COOKER FRENCH ONION SOUP

serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS

6 spanish onions, sliced

1 32 oz package of Pacific Organic Beef Broth

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 loaf of crusty bread

1 tsp olive

8-10 oz of grated Gruyere Cheese

SLOW COOKER or CROCK POT

PREP

1. Set your slow cooker on low, throw in sliced onions and cover. Let sit 6-8 hours, until onions are caramelized.

2. Once onions are fully caramelized, stir  and make sure you get any stuck on bits from the bottom. Don’t worry if some a little more browned that others. Add beef broth and cover. Continue to cook on low for 6-8 hours.

3. Once cooked salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into over proof bowls or ramekins. Cut bread in hearty pieces that nicely fit into your bowl – then lightly toast in a heavy bottom pan with a teaspoon of olive oil. Top soup with bread and the cover with grated cheese.

4. Pop into the broiler at high for 5-7 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly and tinged brown.

Serve with salad and enjoy!

CALVIN’S BIRTHDAY RECIPE ROUNDUP, March, 2016, Orient, NY

The week before last was Calvin’s birthday and for the first time in three years we actually got to spend it together! I wanted to do something special but since we live three hours away from all of our friends back in NYC a party party really wasn’t an option. Besides I’ve thrown Calvin a party party before. For his 25th birthday I organized a bowling  party at my favorite bowling ally/dive bar in Brooklyn, The Gutter. (Fun fact – Calvin was on the bowling team in high school and is the only person in Oberlin history to skip Bowling 101 and go straight to Bowling 202. He’s that good.) I invited all our friends, made shirts for everyone that said “I Lurve Calio” (including a special crop top version for myself) and a tank top for him that said “CALIO!” on the front and “THE BIG 25” on the back. Bowling was followed by an epic dance party at my old party apartment plus a keg of beer brewed specially for his birthday. I’m pretty good at parties.

Now that we’re old country folk, doing something special means preparing a dinner party – a dinner party FEAST composed of recipes by professional chefs and my favorite blogs.! Today instead of posting my own recipe I want to share ALL the recipes I made for Calvin’s birthday dinner – every single one of which I have made on many occasions and are always a hit! If you follow me on Instagram (which if you don’t, you probably should) you know I make a lot of Asian-inspired meals and these are some of my favorite gringa-Asian (my own term) recipes. For the main course, I decided I would prepare the Momofuku style Bo Ssam pork butt that you may remember from one my very first blog posts (!) plus so many fixings. Below is the full menu with all the links and descriptions, in case your inclined to make them yourself! Plus, obvi, some photos!

Momofuku Bo Ssam Pork– is pork butt that has been dry brined in a salt/sugar/brown sugar rub over night, slow roasted until pull apart tender then served with white rice, bibb lettuce, a ridiculously tasty ginger-scallion sauce AND a spicy Korean vinegar hot sauce. Full disclosure – I am not the  biggest fan of the ssamjang soy bean paste the hot sauce calls for it’s hard to find and use up- so I forgo-ed it this time and substituted a tablespoon of brown sugar to balance out the heat in the sauce. Once all your Bo Ssam fixings are ready you take your lettuce, fill with a spoonful of rice and a heap of pulled pork covered in both sauces – it’s sweet ,salty, spicy and fresh all at once. If you make this you’ll be sure to win the dinner party!

Jean-Gorge Ginger Fried Rice – I have not been lucky enough to dine at Jean Gorge and try this dish myself but Mark Bittman published this recipe almost a decade ago on NYTIMES and it’s been one of my favorites ever since. Super simple recipe, the only thing I change is when making for a crowd I’ll scramble 4 eggs into the rice instead of topping with a fried egg. I also add a dash or two more of sesame oil because I have a thing for sesame oil.

Sriracha Garlic Roasted Broccoli – this recipe is from one of my favorite food blogs, Food52, and is a staple in my kitchen. I make it for Asian inspired grain bowls or as a side for Korean fried chicken night. It’s super simple and crazy tasty. Plus you can make it spicier if you prefer just by adding extra sriracha.

Cold Rice Noodle Salad– another gem from Food52, I made this dish to help satisfy the vegetarian that joined us for dinner. You can use pad Thai style noodles as recommended in the recipe but it’s just as good with vermicelli rice noodles. I personally prefer using only cilantro in my salad but if you want to add all the herbs go for it! This is a great dish for a dinner party on it’s own!

Green Salad with Carrot-Ginger Dressing– the most important part of this salad is the dressing! The recipe comes from my fellow Fieldston alumna’s blog, Feed Me Pheobe, it tastes just like the carrot-ginger dressing you love at sushi restaurants and is actually super healthy! I make this dressing all the time and keep it in the fridge – it goes well with any green salad!

Kimchi – the ONLY thing on the table I didn’t make! I’ve heard it’s super easy to make yourself though *warning* it can stink up your fridge. It’s a necessary condiment when serving any Korean inspired meal – extra points if you serve more than one type! My favorite brand is Sunja’s Medium Spicy Kimchi– it’s not too hot so great for us gringos!

Funfetti Cake– yes that is right I made funfetti cake FROM SCRATCH! This recipe is from one of my favorite bloggers Molly Yeh  I’ve wanted to make it for years but just never found the right occasion to put in all the work. I mean, boxed funfetti cake is so delicious and easy but you know, pretty much processed food poison. I usually make Calvin his favorite strawberry short cake for his birthday but this year I decided to make both! Then got so wrapped up in the funfetti I never got around to the strawberry short cake… TG the funfetti was deliciousness enough to make up for it (though I still owe you a strawberry short cake, Calio). I made a naked cake (frosted on the top and middle but not the sides) because I do not have the proper cake decorating tools (offset spatula, cake stand, lazy susan, etc…) to execute a perfect full on frosting. I lightly colored the frosting pink and tried my hand and basic lettering with a $5 pastry bag from the IGA. I also trimmed off the edges of the cake once it was assembled to reveal the sprinkles inside. It wasn’t the prettiest cake ever but it was the yummiest and I’ll definitely be making this recipe again for all birthday occasions!

Plus, I finally got Calvin the chainsaw he’s been asking for and have room for now that we’re out of Brooklyn and at the farm! All in all it was a successful and delicious birthday! Pictures below!

WE MOVED TO A FARM! / RECIPE: PAPA JOE’S GARLIC ROSEMARY ROASTED CHICKEN, SAUSAGES AND POTATOES, March, 2016, Orient, NY

We moved to a farm!!

Well kind of. The boyfriend, who will now be known by his Christian name, Calvin, moved to a farm on the east end of Long Island. I’m splitting my time between the farm and my parent’s place on the Upper West Side so I can run the restaurant five days a week. This isn’t a “We Bought a Zoo” situation (full disclosure, I’ve never seen that movie, but I’m assuming the plot is Matt Damon buys a zoo even though he has no experience running a zoo) – Calvin farmed for five plus years before moving to the city three years ago when I opened the restaurant. We even lived on a farm the summer of 2012 when Calvin was farming in Amagansett. After over three full time years in the city Calvin was offered a job managing an organic vegetable farm out in Southold — pretty much at the end of Long Island on the North Fork (not the South Fork which is the Hamptons)(the North Fork is way chiller)(it’s also wine country!) and he couldn’t be happier to be doing what he loves.

SO Calvin’s out on the farm full time with Misses Loretta the dog who is also doing what she loves – running around in open fields all day herding sticks. It’s a brand spanking new farm so he gets to start from scratch – planting, buying animals, setting up barns. You really need to lay all the ground work for the growing season early in the winter so even though they haven’t started growing anything yet (animal or vegetable) he has his work cut out for him cleaning out barns, building chicken coops and deciding what they’re going to plant and when. Eventually, he’ll have a full blown farm stand and sell at market but for now there’s lots of prep to be done!

What do I do when Calvin’s at the farm all day? If you know me at all you know I’m not helping. I’ve tried working on the farm a couple of times and  I don’t last long. I liken my experience farming to some of the worst school field trips I’ve been on – too cold, too hot, and plain old boring. But just because I’m no help on the farm itself doesn’t mean I’m no help at all! Once after a particularly frusterating day mulching garlic in Amagansett (mulching pretty much means throwing dead leaves on dirt) I gave up after about 20 minutes on a cold windy day, went back home and showed everyone up with two homemade challahs made from fresh farm eggs. I’m clearly much better at cooking the vegetables than growing them! And home cooked meals are always welcome on the farm or anywhere really. So I’m spending my off days on the farm cooking elaborate meals, blogging (!), teaching myself how to drive Calvin’s stick shift (and stalling a lot) and spending hours embroidering. It’s kind of awesome. It’s like I finally have the country house I always wanted! Plus the views from our house are RIDICULOUS. You guys should all come visit just to watch the sunset!

I’ll be posting updates of the farm’s progress from now on! Along with recipes I’ll be making based on seasonal vegetables Calvin will be growing from the farm. Today I’m sharing the very first meal I made at the farm — my Papa’s garlic rosemary roasted chicken, Italian Sausages and potatoes. It is an INCREDIBLE and easy one pan dish (just realized I’m posting two one pot meals in a row but whatevs). This recipe is also great for these last cold winter nights and equally enjoyable in warmer months. It’s great for a crowd but also holds up well if you make it for two and eat the rest as leftovers. I can’t wait to make it again with potatoes, garlic, rosemary and chickens all grown of the farm!

Even though my father has owned restaurants my entire life he almost never cooked. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him cook three things – once he made me chicken soup when I was sick at home, once he had a date and he told me he was making her steak (I only saw the raw steaks, not the finished product) and this chicken dish which he has made for me over and over and I love every time. I first started making it on my own in college when I was a head cook at my co-op Tuesday nights — it feeds a lot of people and somehow the chicken always stays super moist and tender. It’s almost a full proof recipe! The real trick is to over stuff the pan and get a good 1/4 inch of olive oil on the bottom. The only time I’ve ever messed this recipe up was when I made it on a cookie sheet instead of the baking pan –  all the ingredients were too spread out and wound up dry and over cooked. You need the potatoes, chicken and sausage to be crowded together to create the ideal moisture to crispyness ratio. Don’t skip the extra step of browning the sausages before you bake – it gives them that extra oomf of flavor and texture. And make sure you nestle the sausage and chicken next to each other next to each other for optimal flavor enhancement. Now here’s what you’ll need!

PAPA JOE’S ROASTED GARLIC ROSEMARY CHICKEN AND POTATOES
Serves 6

INGREDIENTS
4 white thing fleshed potatoes – peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 whole head garlic (we’re not kidding around here) – minced
6 chicken thighs – bone in!
1 lbs sweet or spicy Italian sausage – up to you
10-12 sprigs of FRESH rosemary – removed from stems and roughly chopped it should be about 1/4 cup
A LOT of olive oil – at least 1/3 to generously cover all ingredients and leave a 1/2 inch on the bottom on the pan while cooking
salt and pepper

1. preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. in a 9″x13″ baking dish (or around there – you can use a smaller baking dish but not a larger one. remember you want to crowd your ingredients in the pan) throw in chopped potatoes, half of the chopped rosemary, garlic and chicken and cover with olive oil so all ingredients are coated then add salt and pepper. Roughly mix ingredients together so chicken and potatoes are evenly covered in garlic, oil, rosemary salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a medium sized pan. Once hot brown the sausages on both sides -about one minute each- but do not cook through! You will be cooking the sausages along with chicken and potatoes so if cooked through on the pan they will get dry! Remove from heat and let cool till you can handle.

4. Once cooled but sausages into 4″ pieces and arrange with chicken and potatoes. You want all the ingredients to be touching! I find it easiest to spread out the potatoes, nestle the chicken and then squeeze sausages between the chicken and potatoes.

5. cover with more olive oil and salt and pepper and the remaining rosemary. Once again, you want there to be about a 1/2 inch pool of olive oil on the bottom of the pan – this helps keep the chicken moist while making the potatoes crispy and turns in tot he most delectable sauce once everything is good and baked.

6. bake for one hour – you want your chicken to be cooked through, juices running clear, with crispy skin. potatoes should be brown and crispy on the outside but fork tender on the inside.

7. served everyone a good portion of potatoes, one chicken thigh and at least one sausage! cover with oil sauce from the bottom of the pan and serve with crusty bread – you’re gonna wanna do some dipping!

SIX MONTHS LATER…/ RECIPE: SHEPARD’S (AKA COTTAGE) PIE, March, 2016, Manhattan, NY

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I’ve never been very good at keeping resolutions. One year for New Year’s not so long ago I decided to give up my bottled water habit – I have a thing for Evian – it just tastes better – but I knew bottled water was bad for both the environment and my wallet. I was so proud of this decision I flaunted my resolve to my friends and roommates, bragging how easy it would be, how much money I would save. By January 8th I’d totally caved, walked around the corner to Hana Food and indulged in a $3 bottle of water. When a roommate came home and caught me in bed with that tall drink of water, I humbly confessed, “I gave up.”

This year (of my birth, not the calendar), instead of setting resolutions I set goals. I realize that benchmarks are a more feasible alternative to my ambitious and perhaps unrealistic resolutions. But if you read my last post (from SIX MONTHS ago) you probably noticed that I have set A LOT of goals. Eating better, working out, writing more, traveling, success! I mean, I know I had a whole year ahead of me but I also have much I need to accomplish. I must say I’ve done pretty okay on some of my goals. Six months into my twenty-eighth year (okay, technically it’s my twenty-ninth) year I thought this would be a good time to evaluate my progress and finally update my blog. First and foremost, I GOT MY FUCKING DRIVERS’ LICENSE – something I’ve been putting off for 12ish years (I mean, I am a New Yorker, crazy good at the subway and a top-notch passenger), but an adult needs driver’s. Now I just need to master stick shift… I also renewed my passport, which will help me attain future goals! I’ve already pampered myself with a two-week vacation in Hawaii (travel blog-post coming soon) AND a trip to Uruguay (blog posts about both coming soon!). I’ve reshuffled my restaurant staff and have been booking parties left and right. At one point I was working out daily, though recently my work out schedule has dwindled, but hey, that’s way better than my exercise commitment over the past few years, which was never.

Going forward I plan to focus more on my blog and my diet. So here I go blogging about my eating habits AND sharing a super cozy recipe for the last cold nights of winter! Cold grey weather almost guarantees poor diet choices. The homemade pastas at my restaurant have been beckoning me with their delicious sauces and fresh meats and vegetables. I’ve also imbibed a fair amount of booze. But over the past few months I have to remind myself that I don’t have to be perfect. Everything in moderation is my mantra now; not exactly the Party Girl Plan, more like the Party Girl Plan Lite (but still pretty heavy). If I want to have gnocchi for lunch I’ll have a salad for dinner, not only because salad is the healthy choice but also because I know those greens will help my body digest the gnocchi, and TBH I really like salad. Smoothies in the morning instead of bagels. Dessert once (or twice) a week instead of every night and usually homemade. And for good measure, I’ll throw in a Pilates class here and there. It’s sweater season and I’m feeling good about myself and so should you!

In honor of the cooler weather and my dabbling with indulgence today I’m sharing the recipe for my mom’s Shepard’s Pie. I know, with a name like Isabella Gambuto you’d think I’m 100% Guido, but alas that conclusion is flawed. My mother is Jewish, of South African and English decent. My Grandmother Patricia is a very proper Londoner (accent, marmite, Sainsbury’s Red Label tea, keep calm and carry on and all that). This recipe is my mom’s version of one of her grandmother’s signature dishes. Though classically made with lamb, mom now makes hers with ground turkey and the rest of us make it with ground beef, which in the UK they call Cottage Pie. But this one is my recipe and I’m going to call it what I damn well please! Caramelized onions and seasoned ground beef, topped with layers of peas, roasted sweet potatoes and creamy mashed potatoes, all covered with grated sharp cheddar and baked in the oven. It’s the perfect one pot meal, great for a crowd or family dinner. Preparation is a little time consuming but totally worth the effort. It’s also even better the next day! I mean, I’m pretty sure this recipe could win a Shepard’s/Cottage Pie competition, if such thing existed…

 

FullSizeRender-3.jpgSHEPARD’S  aka COTTAGE PIE

Shepard’s pie is pretty much an entire meal – meat, potatoes and veggies – stacked into one delicious casserole. I apologize for the so-so photo – I made a super fun GIF of all the layers but an too computer illiterate to figure out how to post it on wordpress (help?!).

Serving size: 8-10 people. This is a good dinner party dish!

INGREDIENTS

2 LBS ground beef

1 large Spanish onion, chopped

2 tbs olive oil

1 beef boullian

1 cup water

3 large sweet potatoes

4 large potatoes

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)(I know, a lot of butter)

1/4 cup heavy cream (yea, I never said this was particularly healthy)

1 bag frozen peas

1/2 cup sharp cheese of your choice SHREDDED (I used a mix of parmesan and white cheddar)

salt and pepper

***heavy bottomed pot like a Le Creuset 

PREP:

  1.  peel potatoes and chop fourths. place in a medium pot and cover with water and bring to a boil. once water has boiled uncover pot and lower heat to a simmer and let cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes. once cooked, drain water and mash with butter and cream. salt and pepper to taste.
  2. while potatoes are boiling prick your sweet potatoes with a fork two or three times each and place on a tin foil lined baking sheet. put in over and heat to 425 degrees feranheit. bake for 30-45 minutes, until fork tender. once cooked, scoop out roasted potatoes and discard skins, salt and pepper to taste.
  3. while your sweet potatoes are roasting heat a large pan with olive oil and brown ground beef. make sure to drain any liquid released from beef from the pan – do this by covering your pan and carefully pouring out excess liquid into a bowl. you can discard this excess liquid
  4. once meat is nice and browned set removed from pan and set aside. add onions into same pan and sauté, making sure to pick up any little bits of beef stuck to the pan (that’s flavor baby!) you may need to add another glug or two of olive oil here. cook until tender and sweet about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and turn down heat to 400 degrees farenheit.
  5. add meat back in with onions, throw in beef boullian cube and cover with water. let cook until water is fully reduce and taste. if too salty or too dry add another 1/2 cup of water and let reduce again. salt and pepper to taste.
  6. the final step before layering your pie is to defrost your frozen peas! this can be done in the microwave, a steamer or a shallow pan filled with 1/2 inch water. just make sure to drain any excess liquid post defrosting!
  7. at this point you should have all five (YES FIVE) components of your pie ready and waiting! In your heavy bottom pan layer your ingredients in this order: : beef and onions, peas, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes. Make sure you are evenly spreading the sweet and mashed potatoes.
  8. once put together it’s time for your final finishing touch: CHEESE! sprinkle the cheese of your choice all over the top. also feel free to add a couple pats of butter if you’re feeling crazy!
  9. once fully assembled place pie uncovered into oven (which should still be heated from your roasting) and cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes, until cheese is melted and the top is lightly browned. Let cool at least five minutes and then dig in!

***Optional eating advice — I like the mash my pie all together, unto a big ugly mess, that way you get a bit of beef, peas, sweet and mashed potatoes in every bite! But that’s just a suggestion!

And now a smattering of photos from the last half year of my life just because!

BELLA ON HER 28TH BIRTHDAY / RECIPE: MASSAGED KALE SALAD WITH ROASTED CHICKPEAS IN A MISO-TAHINI DRESSING, September, 2015, Manhattan, NY

I turned twenty-eight this month. I’m now officially in my late twenties (even though twenty-seven totally qualifies as late twenties) so it’s time to get my shit together. On September 5th, my actual birthday, I wrote an Instagram post (you should probably follow me) listing all the goals I want to accomplish in the coming year and asked my friends and (handful of random) followers to help to keep me focused.

Here, once again, is the long-winded birthday message I posted on the gram:

“Hey world! Today I turn 28 and here are some things I’d like to accomplish in the coming year. I want to remain healthy, for my business to continue to profit and then some, to write/blog more frequently (at least once a week), to grow my blog/etsy/instagram/general social media presence, to write a cook book (okay maybe more of a long term goal), to commit myself to eating a balanced diet and an overall healthy lifestyle, to work out at least four days a week but aim for six, to go some place I’ve never been before, particularly abroad, to face my fears, to love, be loved and be happy.”

It’s been two plus weeks and I haven’t exactly hit the ground running towards accomplishing these goals. But hey, it’s a marathon not a sprint! In the past three weeks I’ve moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan, attended two destination weddings, gone through a torrent of emotional turmoil (which I’m not going to share with you because bloggers need keep some things private, right?), and sneaking a lot of crappy food. On top of that I haven’t worked on an embroidery project in over a month, which may have something to do with the fact that my life is in boxes. On the plus side I HAVE joined Class Pass (which is awesome) and started taking Pilates, yoga and barre classes frequently, though I’ve yet to meet my 4X/week goal. Maybe that will happen this week? I remain optimistic. I went on a super hard hike on my birthday and climbed an eight story (maybe I’m exaggerating) moon tower even though I’m completely afraid of heights. I already faced a fear! I have managed, on most days, to have a smoothie and/or a salad for at least one if not two of my meals. I have also booked several parties and special events at my restaurant that will definitely bring in extra revenue and more than likely a new batch of returning slash regular customers.

And I even very impromptu-ly (I know that’s not a word and I don’t care Mom) bought tickets to Hawaii for TWO WEEKS! I can’t remember the last time I went anywhere for two whole weeks, let alone paradise! If you’ve spoken to me at all in the past three months you’d have heard that Hawaii’s been calling my name; so many omens have crossed my winding path, omens pointing to the far west. (mostly, I got really into the Hawaii Five-O reboot on Netflix.) Even though I’ve been to Hawaii before, twice, I haven’t been Oahu, aka Hawaii Five-O Land, and because I’ve always wanted to go there it still counts as a place I’ve never been. And hey, I will have visited Hawaii AND Alaska in one year! That’s pretty cool.

So yea, I’m chugging along at my own pace trying to become the best version of myself. And part of that is eating right! Today I’m sharing a recipe for a healthy, filling and crazy delicious massaged kale salad. This recipe is based on the kale salad I had in Miami at 27, the restaurant inside the very hip (I hate using that word, but actually) Freehand Hostel, which is not actually a hostel, more like a fancy hotel with bunk beds. My friends and I were all little wary of ordering yet another kale salad but the miso-tahini dressing really piqued our interest so we ordered one for the table.

Oh boy did we make the right decision! The vigor of the kale harmonized beautifully with the crunch of the chickpeas and radishes, and the addictive delicious dressing made this a perfect salad. I’m pretty sure I licked the bowl. As soon as I got home I tried to recreate it, added some extra veggies, took away the fennel (not that I don’t LOVE fennel), and I gotta say, I think my version is just as good, if not better.

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MASSAGED KALE SALAD WITH ROASTED CHICKPEAS, RADISHES, GRAPE TOMATOES AND CUCUMBERS IN A MISO-TAHINI DRESSING

There are a lot of steps to this salad and I wanted to make a couple of notes on the prep. First, make sure you properly massage the kale – the last time I made the salad I rushed my massaging because my mama had to get to an appointment – and without the deep massage the kale was too fibrous and the salad fell a little flat. Second, the salty roasted chickpeas provide an alternative for the crouton crunch factor. After roasting the chickpeas make sure to use them while they’re still hot, as they’re crunchiest right out of the oven. After about thirty minutes or so they get a little chewier, still tasty, but for this recipe it’s all about the crunch. Next, though the recipe calls for half a can of chickpeas I like to roast them all and save the other half for a healthy snack. Finally, I’ve added one small hack for the dressing; the original recipe calls for tahini, a thick paste made of ground sesame seeds. In its place I use the tahini-based Annie’s Goddess dressing, which is much easier to work with and store than pure tahini and provides the same flavor.

Between the massaging, chopping, mixing the homemade dressing and roasting the chickpeas, this salad takes time – and timing – to prepare, but it’s so totally worth it. It’s robust enough for a filling lunch, or serve it as a colorful, crunchy accompaniment for chicken paillard or grilled steak and tada! you have a full on meal.

Serving size: Full meal for 2, side dish for 4-6.

Ingredients:

DRESSING

1/3 Cup Annie’s Goddess Dressing
1 tablespoon white miso
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup warm water

salt and pepper

PREP
***A jar with a lid or better yet a mini mixer like a magic bullet or small Cuisinart will make preparation a lot easier. If you lack both, some strong whisking will do the trick

1. in a small bowl mix together the warm water and miso paste until the miso is dissolved. add into a jar (or whatever you may have) with lemon juice, and goddess dressing and shake until emulsified

2. add salt and pepper to taste

SALAD INGREDIENTS

Kale (I like Russian curly kale, you can use whichever kale you prefer or find at the market)

1/2 15 oz can Chickpeas

1/2 cucumber, peeled and chopped

3 radishes, chopped

1/2 cup cherry, grape or sun gold tomatoes, sliced in half

olive oil

salt and pepper

CHICKPEAS

1. pre heat oven to 400° F

2. rinse chickpeas and thoroughly dry them with a kitchen clothe, until dry to the touch (this will take a little while)***they won’t get crunchy if they aren’t completely dry

3. place chickpeas on a cookie sheet and smother with olive oil and a generous helping of salt. iodized or kosher works best.

4. cook for 25-30 minutes until gold brown and crunchy

THE REST

1. first things first you gotta massage that kale! there are hundreds of great instructions on the internet, here’s a good one. make sure you work it hard! remove the ribs of the leaves and rip into bite size pieces

2. add chopped radishes, cucumbers and tomatoes

3. throw in hot crunchy chick peas

4. dress to your liking (I ilke a lot of dressing) but try adding half of the dressing, mix and taste to see if you need more.

5. add GOOD flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper and ENJOY!

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