Sweet & Sour Pickled Radishes

Sweet & Sour Pickled Radishes

These pickled radishes are my go-to if I’m making tacos, quesadillas, or really any kind of  sandwich. They are so quick and easy and are just the perfect thing to perk up anything slow-roasted or long-simmered. Best of all, they’re ready in under an hour and last for weeks.

We aren’t ardent picklers, but we do have two favorites: quick-pickled red onions, and these tangy babies. You can also add herbs (I like thyme, bay leaf and tarragon best), chili flakes or whole dried chilies for spice.  I had a big tin of pink peppercorns that I picked up from Sahadi’s last time I was there so I added them as well.

Black peppercorns, pink peppercorns, mustard seeds
Black peppercorns, pink peppercorns, mustard seeds

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Potato, Spinach and Cheese Frittata

Potato, Spinach & Cheese FrittataYou know those times when you look in the fridge and think, “meh”. You might have a little bit of this and a little leftover that but seemingly not enough of any one thing to actually make something? Well, that’s me about 75% of the time.

While I definitely get inspired and enjoy the process of shopping and cooking (and photographing and blogging), there are many more days when I’m just really busy and can’t even think about what to make for dinner until I’m fifteen minutes past being really bloody hungry.

That’s when I like to make a fritatta. Seriously, you can pretty much throw anything in it and it will work. (Edible, anything edible). Have a potato or two? Great, chop it up! A bag (or frozen box) of spinach? That’ll work. Weird little bits of several kinds of cheeses? Why not. No one’s looking. As we say in Brooklyn, “do you”. (I’m so, so sorry).

The great thing about a fritatta is that as long as you have enough eggs to bind it all together, pretty much anything is going to work. Sure, you have to think a bit about what flavors go together. That really stinky, pungent bleu cheese may not work so well with, say, shrimp but would be delicious with bacon and onion (and shrimp would be fantastic with corn and scallions). ┬áJust think about what you have available, what tastes good together and don’t overthink it.

Potato, Spinach & Cheese Frittata

This particular recipe is just what I had on hand (and it’s a nice combo) but you should feel free to substitute any ingredient you want (except the eggs, of course).

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Roasted Sunchokes with Garlic and Herbs (Jerusalem Artichokes)

Roasted Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes)

Roasted sunchokes (also called Jerusalem Artichokes) make a fantastic side dish. They’re creamy on the inside with crispy edges and a mild, nutty flavor. They also happen to be packed with vitamins.

A couple of weeks ago, Matt’s sister Hayli got us tickets to see Asaf Avidan at Irving Plaza (quick aside: along with The Ritz and CBGB, Irving Plaza was the place to see hardcore, punk and ska bands when I was in high school. To this day, it still feels wrong to be in there without a mohawk and zebra-print creepers on.)

Anyhoozle, the show was great fun (thanks Hayli!) and since we stayed around Union Square, we got to walk around the Greenmarket before we headed back on the train. (I love living in Beacon, but I do miss that damn market. Seriously, there is nothing else like it). Since we were wandering, we didn’t really want to carry loads of stuff but I just couldn’t resist picking up some sunchokes, which are in season right now.

Roasted Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes)Now you may be saying to yourself “Hmm, that looks suspiciously like the grizzled, terrifying hunk of old ginger I found hiding behind my refrigerator when I moved last year.” And it’s true that these aren’t the most attractive vegetable in Earth’s garden of delights but we wouldn’t let a trivial thing like that stop us from enjoying something so delicious, would we? Good answer.

Sunchokes are also known as Jerusalem Artichokes for some reason (they are neither from Jerusalem, nor are they related to artichokes. Go figure, but they are part of the sunflower family so that at least makes some sort of sense.) Whatever you like to call them, they have a lovely nutty flavor which some people say reminds them of water chestnuts. 

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Classic Tomato Soup

Classic Tomato Soup
Easy, Delicious Homemade Tomato Soup

Recently I had one of those nights when I came home late and exhausted and all I wanted to do was flop down on the couch and watch something fun on TV (current obsessions: House of Cards, True Detective, Ripper Street, The Americans and don’t even call me on Sunday nights once Game of Thrones is back BECAUSE I WILL NOT ANSWER THE PHONE).

Those are the nights when I want to cook something fast and easy, and I don’t want to have to make a special trip to the store to get ingredients. I looked in the pantry and thought “Yes! You can do this, Clifton. Find something in there to make that doesn’t suck!” Well, I’ll tell you this. A warm bowl of homemade classic tomato soup does not suck.

Until tomato season comes round again (it’s hard to remember a time when the yard wasn’t basically permafrost), big cans of good tomatoes are a perfect pantry standby. You can make this classic tomato soup with either crushed or whole plum tomatoes, if you don’t mind crushing them with your hands. Some of you might quite enjoy doing that, I don’t know, that’s your business. Either way, you will want a stick blender to finish the job.

NOTE: If you’re feeling extra-fancy, make a little grilled cheese sandwich to go alongside your masterpiece. I, of course, was far too lazy even for that and just spread some goat cheese on a cracker and sprinkled some black pepper and scallions over it. Oh,  and some chopped radishes on the side because they’re also red.

Easy, Delicious Tomato Soup
Goat cheese, cracked pepper and scallions

Easy, Delicious Tomato Soup

Chocolate Truffles

Yes, these chocolate truffles are decadent and luxurious but they’re also simple to put together and they will wow a party or an intimate dinner for two.

Chocolate Truffles

FADE IN

INT. MATT AND EMILY’S LIVING ROOM. 2PM, VALENTINE’S DAY.

Fast-paced close-up montage of: Fastening crampons. Pulling on ski mask. Adjusting gloves. Snapping on protective goggles.

EMILY: This is madness! You’re never going to make it!

MATT: I’ve got to try! Don’t you see? (Looks out window at a wall of swirling white, a brutal blizzard)

MATT (CONT’D): (Quietly) I have to at least try.

EMILY: Okay. Be careful.

MATT: Wait, what? (Looks back out window as a chicken blows past, another victim)

MATT (CONT’D): Are you insane? It’s crazy out there! Isn’t there anything we can make with just chocolate, butter and eggs?

EMILY: (Also looks out window, into the middle distance) Yes. Yes there is.

                                                                            CUT TO:

HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES!

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Garlic Fried Rice with Eggs and Chile Vinegar

All you need is day-old steamed rice, some good garlic, and an egg to make a quick breakfast, lunch or supper – garlic fried rice. 

Garlic Fried Rice with Eggs and Chile Vinegar
What to do with: leftover rice? Garlic Fried Rice with Eggs and Chile Vinegar

Blah blah, winter. Blah blah snow. Blah blah thiswinterismakingmeinsane. Okay, obligatory whining done. Whew, I actually feel better.

Rice! (I love a good non-sequitor). Is there a a container of leftover rice in your refrigerator right now? If so, you are in luck, my friend. Why, you ask? Because your mission (a delicious, quick and easy breakfast) should you choose to accept it, involves that rice, some garlic and an egg.

Basically, this is a garlic fried rice recipe from the Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant cookbook, that I used to make all the time. I’m pretty sure the recipe was actually called the Philippine Breakfast and it’s so simple, I didn’t even need to look it up to remember how make it again.

Don’t be put off by the garlic. It gets lovely and nutty when cooked this way. Not pungent at all.  I like to serve it with a few slices of avocado, a lime wedge and a sprinkle of Maldon salt. Matt loves it with a squirt of sriracha.  

Garlic Fried Rice with Eggs and Chile Vinegar
Chile Vinegar
Nerd Tips:
  • Be careful not to burn the garlic. Burned garlic is horrifying and if you really scorch it you should really throw it out, clean the pan and give it another go.
  • Garlic fried rice works with pretty much any kind of rice (except wild rice which isn’t really rice at all).
  • If you like things extra-spicy, try using a habanero pepper, but don’t sue me if you burn your bits and pieces off.
  • The pepper vinegar gets better and better as it sits, so make extra and store it in the fridge for next time.

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