Farmers Market Salad

Farmers Market Sungold Tomato Salad

So I’ve been incognito for a while—but it hasn’t been without reason. I adopted a cat, made an Instagram for said cat, deleted said Instagram once I realized it was a quick downward slope into Crazy Cat Lady Land, I moved into an apartment (more on that later), and I’ve been working a lot. Almost all of my time is taken up by my job—writing, styling, writing some more—not that I’m complaining.

I love my job—and I’m not just saying that because I know my boss may be reading this (hi!), but because it’s really a dream—I get to play with food, be creative, shadow my favorite bar because I think it might be a good idea for an article, and I get to take home a lot of food. I’m talking buckets of vegan chili, grilled chicken, and slow-cooked salmon. The challenge comes in making these foods into a meal (I’ve become a champion of the motley meal)—but the other day, all I had to do was pour the entire contents of my refrigerator into a bowl and call it a day: A shredded kale salad became the foundation for a pan-seared corn salad, which was pulled together by some Sungold tomatoes purchased at a farm stand in the Hamptons and a Dijon-honey vinaigrette. The result was a sweet and spicy salad that I couldn’t stop eating.

Farmers Market Salad Dinner Party

Farmers Market Salad
Serves 6
Corn salad adapted from Kendra Vaculin’s recipe on Food52

For the salad:

1 bunch lacinato kale, minced
1 cup fresh mint, minced
1 cup walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2–2 tablespoons Sriracha
3 ears of corn, kernels sliced off of the cobs
1 red bell pepper, seeded and minced
1/4 cup packed, chopped parsley
1/4 scant cup crumbled cotija
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup halved Sungold tomatoes

For the dressing:

1 tablespoon honey, creamed if you have it on hand
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil

  1. To make the dressing, in a small dish or Bell jar (which makes for easy storage later), whisk together the honey and Dijon with a fork until fully combined. Add in the vinegar and mix, then, while whisking with the fork, slowly add in the olive oil, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, until well-combined. Set aside.
  2. In a large serving bowl, toss the chopped kale, chopped mint and the walnuts together, then set aside.
  3. In a medium pan over medium-high heat, warm the butter. Add the Sriracha, then, add in the corn, stirring with a wooden spoon until the corn is slightly browned, about 7 minutes.
  4. Add the peppers and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Add in the parsley, cotija, and lime juice; mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the warm corn to the bowl of kale mixture and toss to combine.
  6. Add the halved tomatoes on top, toss with the dressing, and serve so that the corn is still warm.


Ramp-Stuffed Roast Duck with Baby Potatoes

Roast Duck with Ramps

Carried away by the beautiful weather, a trip to the local greenmarket, and an extremely persuasive farmer, my boyfriend and I found ourselves walking home yesterday with a bag full of ramps, baby potatoes, kale, and a five-pound moulard duck. While I’ll take any opportunity to order duck, I’d never actually cooked it, so we spent most of the walk home contemplating theories and weighing the differences between ducks and chickens (which, if you’re curious, I researched and included below in a fancy Powerpoint graph).

Chicken versus Duck

In the end, we decided to take the advice of the farmer who sold it to us (“You have to stuff it with ramps. It’s a once-in-a-season opportunity.”) and use the cooking directions from a Bon Appetit recipe for Roast Duck with Potatoes (sans the figs and rosemary). The recipe instructed me to score the backs and thighs with a paring knife to release the fat, then stuff it with vegetables of my choice before putting the entire bird in a roasting pan to cook at 425º F for 50 minutes, then with the potatoes for another hour. And you know what? It was delicious.

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All Good Things Salad

All Good Things Salad with Lemon

Last night, I returned home from 10 days in Guatemala for my cousin’s wedding. I try to visit my family there at least once a year, which is often my favorite part of the year, but this trip was unforgettable — I introduced my boyfriend to my enormous family and favorite country, tried to keep up celebrating and drinking with my cousins (and failed miserably), and ate all of the food. I started every morning with frijoles, fried eggs, and platanos, and sustained myself on the light diet of Gallo beer, TorTrix, quesadillas, Quetzalteca Especial, and Pollo Campero for the rest of the afternoon and evening. By the time I returned home, the only thing I was craving was a satisfying, colorful, and easy salad.

I walked into the vegetable aisle of my grocery store this morning with the sole goal of feeding my craving for something fresh and healthy — I ended up with armfuls of kale, radicchio, an out-of-season splurge of sun gold tomatoes and avocados, and fresh burrata (My boyfriend walked away with this). The best part about this salad is that the vegetables are so delicious that it doesn’t even need any dressing — but add an extra squeeze of lemon or a dollop of pesto if you’re looking for some extra flavor.

All Good Things Salad with Radishes and Avocado

All Good Things Salad
Serves 2 to 3 hungry travelers

2 tablespoons extra-vigin olive oil
1 cup kale, shaved
1 cup red cabbage, shaved
1 handful Brussels sprouts, shaved
Juice of 1 lime, divided
1 head radicchio, leaves cleaned and torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup butter lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup romaine, torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 ounce burrata, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 handful sun gold tomatoes, cut into halves
1 avocado, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 bunch radishes, cut into dimes
Pesto, to taste (optional)

  1. Warm the olive oil in a small pan, then toss in the kale, red cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. Cook until lightly wilted, then add in half of the lemon juice.
  2. In a large serving bowl, toss the radicchio, butter lettuce, romaine, burrata, tomatoes, avocado, and radishes with the cooked kale mixture until well combined. Add the rest of the lemon juice and serve. Feel free to add pesto on top if you prefer more “dressing,” but the salad is so delicious, chances are that you’ll find that you won’t need anything to dress up the fresh vegetables.

Linguine Alle Vongole for Two

Linguine alle vongole

This past Valentine’s Day, my boyfriend and I traded in a prix fixe dinner for a classic homemade Italian meal by way of Chinatown fish markets. We headed out Saturday morning into a blizzard to catch the 6 train to Canal Street, at the end of which are vendors upon vendors selling crab claws, entire tunas, salmon, and lobsters on tables of ice. To say it was a madhouse on a Saturday morning would be an understatement. I pushed my way through throngs of people shouting, “CLAMS! TWO POUNDS OF CLAMS! I HAVE CASH!” (romance has never been my forte) until I was able to walk out thirty minutes later with a bag of shellfish and a king crab leg, for the grand total of $14. A piece of advice: No matter what the signs instead tell you inside, there are three steps to buying fish in the downtown fish markets:

  1. Push your way through the crowd and grab the attention of the fish vendor then tell him what you want to buy — don’t dawdle and know exactly how many pounds of what you want before you ask him for it.
  2. He’ll weigh your fish and put it in a bag, then give you a small piece of paper with the price written on it. Take this ticket to the back of the market to pay for your fish in cash. The cashier will sign your piece of paper.
  3. Go back to the fish vendor, and trade your ticket for the bag. There is a lot of yelling, pushing, and fish everywhere, so don’t wear your Sunday best and prepare to be a little aggressive!

Once home, we set to the task of cooking shellfish for the first time — which turned out to be surprisingly simple! For the sake of being extra cheesy (and because this is such a quintessential date night dish), I’ve broken down the steps into two parts so you can make this with your date:

Linguine alle Vongle (Linguini with Clams)
Serves 2, with some left over

Kosher salt
1/2 package linguine pasta
1 shallot
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
24 little neck clams
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
1 cup dry white wine
1 handful flat-leaf parsley
Red chile flakes, to taste

  1. You: Bring a heavily salted pot of water to a boil, then add the pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve a 1/4 cup pasta water, drain, and set aside. Chop the shallot and slice the garlic clove into paper-thin slices. Your date: Scrub the clams with water and potato scrubber one at a time, and place them into a colander in the sink under running water.
  2. You: Add the olive oil to a sauté pan over medium-low heat, then add the shallot once hot. Once the shallots are translucent, add the clams to the pot. (It will feel like you are adding a ton of rocks to a frying pan, but just have faith that they will open and become clammy goodness.) Cook the clams over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes, at which point a few should be starting to open. Add the garlic and the wine, and then cover and bring to a simmer. Cook until the clams open and release their juices, about 6 minutes depending on the size of the clams. Your date: Chop the parsley and reassure your SO that all of the clams will open eventually. Pour yourselves (another) glass of wine and set the table.
  3. You: As each clam opens, transfer it to a small bowl and set aside. All of the clams should be open wide; discard any clams that are closed or only partially open. Once all of the clams have opened, toss the cooked linguine over low heat in the pan. Add the reserved pasta water, parsley, chile flakes, and clams back into the sauté pan. Your date: Light some candles, help serve, and enjoy!

Lamb and Radicchio Salad with Mint Pesto

Lamb and Raddichio Salad

One of my greatest inspirations for developing recipes comes from the back of my refrigerator, in the leftover food from nights before that could use some love. Since my office is moving to a new location next week, I found myself in the right place at the right time, with bags full of leftover goodies as they cleaned out the refrigerator. Carting home three bags of groceries on the subway at rush hour is not something I’d recommend to anyone, but it was worth it for the loot I came home with: boxes of Tofu, ice cream, grilled chicken thighs, mushrooms, bags of kale, mint, and a roast leg of lamb. Once home, I immediately set to combining the most enticing of the loot, the leg of lamb, with the vegetables already in my refrigerator to make a hearty variation on one of my favorite salads.

Sherry Vinaigrette with Lamb and Raddichio

Lamb and Radicchio Salad with Mint Pesto
Serves: 2

1 head radicchio
1/2 head napa cabbage
3/4 lb boneless lamb leg, roast
20-30 mint leaves (roughly 1 package, stems removed)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
3 tablespoon sherry vinegar
3 tablespoon honey
Coarse salt

  1. Cut the radicchio in half, then slice into half-moons and place into a large salad bowl. Do the same with the napa cabbage, then toss until well-combined.
  2. Cut the lamb into 1/2-inch by 2-inch slices, then set aside. In a food processor, pulse the mint and 1 tablespoon olive oil until well-combined, and the mint is coarsely chopped. Use a pastry spoon to scoop the mixture out of the processor and into a small bowl, set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients into a light vinaigrette. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss. To serve, plate the mixed salad with the sliced lamb on top, using the mint pesto as a garnish.

7 Reasons to Love (or Hate) New York

New York City in the Snow

Maybe it’s because my rose-colored glasses haven’t quite worn off since I moved to the city in May, but I would just like to have it in print: I love New York. Surprisingly, I’ve realized after talking with my friends who are New York natives, that many of the reasons I love New York are the exact same reasons that they hate it. So let me make my case, one point at a time, letting all of my naive optimism just hang out in the open:

  1. Subway commutes. Yes, the 6 Train at rush hour is just about the closest I’ve ever stood to a hundred other strangers. And while I don’t love being able to smell the hair of the person I’m pushed up against, the subways offer a 30 to 45 minute respite from your to-do list. For the entire time you’re underground, all you have to do is read a book or listen to a podcast, plus paying for a monthly metro card is a heck of a lot cheaper than paying for car insurance.
  2. Everyone is always in a rush. So many songs and books refer to the hustle of New York, and it’s true, sometimes it can feel like everyone in the city is late for something. While the speed of the city can sometimes be overwhelming, especially when someone pushes you aside as they run to catch their bus, the pace of the city is electric: There is always something going on.
  3. You’re never alone. One of my friends who grew up in L.A. but went to school in the city, pointed out to me that when people in L.A. meet up for a drink, everyone is extremely social because they’ve spent their entire day isolated in a car, but when people in New York meet up for a drink, they’re less likely to be social because they’ve spent their entire day surrounded by other people and could use a break. This may be true, but I love that there are so many opportunities in New York for human interaction. Hardly a day goes by where I don’t have a conversation with the man at my local bodega or share a moment with someone on the subway that makes me smile.
  4. It’s expensive. Okay, obviously the expensive part is sort of a drag, but some of the expensive places are really incredible and worth saving up for. And, there are just as many inexpensive as expensive places — there are so many places to eat, drink, and shop in New York that the price range and value run the gamut; you just need to know where to look. (Let’s just not talk about rent…)
  5. The weather. I often say that I couldn’t live somewhere that doesn’t have four seasons — I love the transition from snowy winters to bright and sunny springs. And while New York can take the whole four seasons thing a little too seriously (below-zero shouldn’t be a temperature), the city is so beautiful in the morning after it’s been snowing all night. And, Central Park in the fall — need I say more?
  6. Everyone’s alway busy. Yes, it’s nearly impossible to find time to see my friends with full-time jobs (especially when it feels like most jobs now are 24-hours) but most of my friends in the city are so busy because they are all working so hard towards something. Most of my girlfriends are pursuing their dream careers at publishing companies, in public health, and in advertising since New York is the heart of so many industries. So yes, we’re all busy, but I’d rather be busy pursuing something I love, than have free time and a mediocre job anywhere else.
  7. Everyone loves New York. If you’ve ever been to Times Square, you’ve seen the Instagram-ready tourists with bright eyes, thrilled to be in the city that never sleeps. They’re purchasing Broadway tickets to Chicago, taking the elevator up the Empire State Building, and eating overpriced Italian food on 8th Avenue, ignoring the more subtle, beautiful parts of the city. And while this unanimous love of the city can sometimes be infuriating when I walk through the throngs of tourists in Midtown, sometimes I have to remind myself that I was a tourist not even eight months ago, and that the lights of Times Square can be magical. Loving New York is a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason.

On one of my first days in New York, as a student of the Columbia Publishing Course, one of the lecturers read this passage from E.B. White’s “Here is New York,” which has since become one of my favorite passages about the city:

There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these trembling cities the greatest is the last — the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion.

Homemade Peanut Butter with Ginger and Maple

Homemade Peanut Butter with Ginger and Maple

Every time I am within a two-block radius of a kitchen supply store, I walk out with a glass jar. I think my glass jar addiction, if you will, is fueled by my idea that in a perfect world, my kitchen pantry would be filled with jars of homemade hummuses, vinaigrettes, sun dried tomatoes, and pickles. Instead, my jars gather dust on top of my refrigerator as I reach for another cup of applesauce at the grocery store. Last week, I finally removed one of the jars and filled it up with a homemade version of something I eat nearly every day: peanut butter.

First, let me say that I would have done this much sooner if I’d had any idea how easy nut butters are to make, as long as you have a food processor! While the base (oil and nuts) can be tailored to nearly any flavor, I opted for a flavor that would go with my daily oatmeal and includes a daily dose of super foods.

Ginger and Maple Peanut Butter with Super Foods
Makes 2 cups

One 16 oz. jar of dry roasted peanuts
A few spoonfuls of melted coconut oil, to preference
2 tablespoons of chia seeds
2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger, peeled and cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
3 tablespoons of maple syrup, more if desired
Salt, to taste

  1. Blend peanuts in a food processor until completely ground, roughly two minutes.
  2. Add one spoonful of coconut oil at a time, until the mixture becomes creamier and more peanut butter- like. (Be careful: While it seems logical that adding more oil makes the mixture creamier, too much oil can lead to oily, weird butter. If you prefer creamy peanut butter, blitz the peanuts in the food processor some more.)
  3. Add the chia seeds, ginger, cinnamon, and maple syrup then blend until fully-combined. Taste the mixture and add salt and more maple syrup if desired.
  4. Put into glass jar, add adorable label, high-five yourself every time you walk past it on the counter.

An Afternoon Snack: Butter Lettuce Salad + Love Toast

Butter Lettuce with Radishes, Tahini Toast, Vinaigrette

One of two things usually happens to me on Sundays: I either eat an enormous (boozy) brunch then have no appetite until the late afternoon, or I forget to eat breakfast altogether and don’t realize how hungry I am until two hours before dinner. For the days when I’m too hungry to wait till dinner, I’ll usually pull together something easy but healthy and satisfying, like a small salad and some toast for some extra substance.

This past Sunday, after a hard morning workout, I visited the grocery store and grabbed some small things that caught by eye: some crisp butter lettuce, amazingly red radishes, and some baby tomatoes, then came home and paired the sharp salad with some sweet tahini toast with jam, inspired by the Love Toast at Dimes.

Butter Lettuce Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

Butter Lettuce with Radishes, Tomatoes, and Dijon Vinaigrette
Serves 1

1/2 clove fresh garlic, peeled
1 pinch salt
1.5 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 teaspoon red wine vinegar, plus some to taste
1 tablespoon honey
5 tablespoon olive oil
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
1/2 head of butter lettuce
5 radishes, greens removed and cut into disks
10 golden baby tomatoes, cut lengthwise

  1. To make the Dijon vinaigrette: Place the garlic into a small food processor, then add the salt, Dijon, red wine vinegar, and honey, blend until combined. While keeping the food processor on, add one tablespoon of olive oil at a time to emulsify. Set aside. (You can also do this all by whisking the ingredients together in a bowl, but I find it much easier to do let the processor do the work.)
  2. Tear the butter lettuce into roughly bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl, then add the radishes and tomatoes.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad, to taste. (You will likely have some dressing leftover, which you can use to dip any leftover radishes into for a perfect snack).

Love Toast with Fruit, a.k.a. Tahini Toast with Jam and Mint
Serves 1

1 slice bread
3 tablespoon tahini
2 tablespoon boozy jam
1 tablespoon chopped mint
Raspberries (if in season)

  1. Toast the bread, then add tahini. Spread the jam over the tahini and add chopped mint on top. Add some fresh raspberries on top if in season.
  2. Shoo away your boyfriend when he comes over to steal a bite.

A French Fête: Frisée Salad + Shrimp with Shallots

Mimi Thorisson A Kitchen in France Cookbook Recipe

In middle school, I had listened to my Edith Piaf album enough times to have every lyric memorized — despite the fact that I didn’t speak French. (My rendition of the chorus to La Vie En Rose took several liberties, “Quand ilmepren dansesbra…”) This fascination with the French language, which manifested itself in Intensive French classes my senior year in college, has since made the jump to French food. Considering that the last four books I purchased have been French cookbooks, you could say I’m obsessed, actually.

This past Sunday, I dove head first into Mimi Thorisson’s A Kitchen in France and David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen to create a classic French feast. While I frequently look to Lebovitz’s traditional recipes for inspiration (and mouth-watering stories about sourcing crêpes in the Latin Quarter), I’ve shied away from Thorrisson’s time-intensive creations. I’ve often reached for her book off of the shelf, then hesitated after reading the name of an unpronounceable mushroom on the ingredient list or lengthy directions — it is not the stuff of weeknight meals. For this meal, I adapted Mimi’s Langoustines with Armagnac, subbing langoustines for shrimp and armagnac for more white wine, and paired it with a classic French frisée salad aux lardons.

Frisée Aux Lardons David Lebovitz


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Things I Read (and Loved) This Week

Books and laptop with flowers

Every week for my job, I read tons of articles about food — many of which deserve to be shared! Here are some of my favorite pieces of food writing from this past week.

  1. David Chang of Momofuku explains the timeline of the massive ramen boom in New York City — and why ramen isn’t what it used to be. [Lucky Peach]
  2. As a former vegan, I appreciated Mark Bittman’s take on the food that’s said to be one of the cruelest animal products. [New York Times]
  3. Bourdain Market is set to be the new Happiest Place on Earth, with an assortment of food stalls hand-picked by Anthony (No surprise, Xi’an Famous Foods is slated to the be first). [Eater]
  4. An incredibly helpful guide to the Geographical Indicators on food (Spoiler: Parmesan knock-offs are rarely from Italy). [Food52]
  5. A story about the mother of all peanut butters — and a man who loved it. [New York Times]