Tuesday, April 22, 2014

PHYLLIS'S RAW ASPARAGUS + FENNEL SALAD

I'm sure those of you who regularly read food blogs are well aware of Phyllis Grant and her bad ass blog, Dash and Bella. Phyllis's writing is funny, raw, heartbreaking, kinetic, passionate... her words can make you belly-laugh and cry all in one sitting. And her food is good, really good.

Back in the summer of 2009 when I started here, I didn't know anyone writing a blog (let alone a food blog) until one day at the market, Sarah an old friend and early reader of Yummy Supper, said... "Hey did you know Phyllis is writing a blog too?" Phyllis and I had gone to high-school together, had always been friendly, but had never known each other well.

Unbeknownst to either of us, Phyllis and I started our blogs within weeks of one another, each of us cooking, photographing and writing in our own kitchens on either side of Berkeley. After running into Sarah at the market, I rushed home to check out Dash and Bella and I was immediately hooked on Phyllis's stories, photos, and recipes. I reached out to Phyllis right away, and we quickly fell into what my husband calls our "blogmance." For nearly 5 years, Phyllis and I chat have chatted on the phone for hours at a time, talking about geeky blogging stuff that honestly none of my non-blogging friends would want to hear. Our conversations wander from recipe developing to parenting, aperture to marriage, book writing to home birth. Phyllis has become one of dearest friends and I'm grateful to have had her insights and support throughout this crazy adventure.

...................

I first made Phyllis' asparagus fennel salad way back in 2010 when Dash and Bella was still in its infancy and I haven't been able to forget how good it tasted. When I asked Phyllis if she minded if I shared her salad here, she said she had forgotten all about the recipe. What?! I told her, "This salad is way too good to be forgotten!"

With asparagus reining as queen of the market these days, I want to eat it every which way while the season lasts. I like that Phyllis leaves the asparagus raw in this salad, combining the slivers with shaved fennel, Parmesan and a dressing that packs a serious punch.




INGREDIENTS from Phyllis Grant's Dash and Bella
printable recipe
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • champagne or white wine vinegar
  • juice and zest of 1/2 Meyer lemon (any lemon will do here)
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 anchovy, chopped fine (Vegetarian friends: leave out the anchovy. The dressing will still be packed with flavor.)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 stalks of asparagus, rough ends trimmed
  • a medium fennel bulb (core and stalks removed) + fronds
  • flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmesan, Piave or Reggiano
  • optional: serve on a bed of steamed quinoa

First, whip up your dressing: Combine shallot, vinegar, lemon juice and zest, capers, and anchovy. Set aside for 10 minutes. Then, add mustard and finally whisk in olive oil. Feel free to adjust seasoning with additional lemon juice or olive oil to taste. Set aside. Keep in mind that the dressing can be made (even a couple of days) in advance.

Cut asparagus at an angle into very thin slices. (Phyllis suggests peeling asparagus stalks until just before the tip. If you are using tender young asparagus, the peeling isn't necessary. ) Place asparagus slices in a serving dish. Slice fennel as thinly as possible, using a mandolin if you've got one. Toss the fennel slivers in with the asparagus.

Generously dress the asparagus and fennel. Season with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Top with a few feathery fennel fronds, plenty of shaved Parm. Serve immediately. (Any leftover salad dressing can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.)

The salad would be beautiful served with grilled fish or lamb chops for dinner, and for lunch, I like nestling the salad on top of quinoa, adding an extra splash of dressing and savoring the party of textures and flavors.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

ALMOND CAKE WITH CARDAMOM + BLOOD ORANGE

A rich, moist almond cake with a hint of cardamom and blood orange zest, with a simple side of blood orange slices... yep I gotta say, this cake is really working for me. I'm a total sucker for almond flour, my favorite ingredient in GF baking. I deeply appreciate that almond flour creations don't even try to mimic your standard wheat flour baked goods. Instead, almond flour treats have their own distinct flavor, texture, and magic deliciousness that no other flour can achieve - and I like that everything is packed with nutty protein.

Can I digress for just a moment to talk about our current citrus obsession? We are crazed around here as the winter citrus season winds down. Paul has been juicing up a storm - blood oranges, tangerines, cara caras, grapefruits, pomelos - whatever he can get his hands on. And two weekends ago, Paul and I walked over to our friend Laura's house to raid her extremely happy Meyer tree. I preserved a ton of lemons which will go to good use in the next few months - a tangy preserved lemon salad dressing seems to go with everything spring and summer.

GO WITH ANYTHING CAKE  adapted from Lucas Holloweg's Good Things to Eat
  • 3 eggs, room temp
  • 150 grams (5 1/2 ounces) powdered sugar, divided
  • 175 grams (6 ounces) almond meal
  • pinch of crumbled sea salt flakes
  • 1/2 blood orange, juice and zest (if you don't have access to blood oranges, any nice orange, tangerine, or lemon will work here)
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • for serving: 2-4 blood oranges, peeled removed and slices 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Separate egg whites and yolks. In a medium mixing bowl, mix yolks with 125 grams (4.5 ounces) powdered sugar. Add almond flour, crumbled sea salt flakes, orange juice and zest, and cardamom. Stir to combine all ingredients - the mixture will be thick and paste-like. Set aside while you whisk your egg whites.
Before whisking egg whites, be sure to clean your whisk and bowl thoroughly so that there's not a hint of oil/grease to inhibit the eggs from whisking properly. I rub my whisk and bowl with a slice of lemon - the acidic juice cuts through any residue. Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the remaining sugar and continue to whisk egg whites they've formed stiff peaks.

Fold egg whites into the yolk/almond mixture. Don't overmix... we want some streaks of white after mixing.

Prep a 7 inch cake pan. First, thoroughly butter the inside of the pan. Then, cut a round of parchment paper to fit into the bottom of the pan - butter the paper too, just in case. Pour the batter into your prepped pan. Bake cake on the oven's middle rack for 35 minutes.

Let the cake cool on a rack before slicing. (Before removing the cake from the pan, be sure to slide a knife down around the edges to make sure it easily separates from the side of the pan.) Keep in mind... any gooey center of the cake will firm up as it cools.

Before serving, dust the cake with powdered sugar. Serve your slices of cake with rounds of blood orange on the side.

Serves 6-8







Tuesday, March 11, 2014

SUPER SIMPLE RADISH SALAD WITH CREME FRAICHE



A few months back, Paul and I went to a dinner at Camino celebrating David Tanis' latest book, One Good Dish. The entire meal was delicious, but I haven't been able to stop thinking about one brilliantly simple dish that really spoke to me. Radishes - any sort you can get your hands on - are thinly sliced and topped with a dollop of crème fraîche, nice salt and ground black pepper. Crisp, tangy, creamy, salty all at the same time...yes!

If you can find them, I suggest using a variety of radishes in your salad. At Monterey Market, I picked up standard red beauties along with watermelon and black radishes - each added its own distinct flavor and texture.

INGREDIENTS adapted from David Tanis's One Good Dish
printable recipe
  • 1/2 pound radishes
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche (see my recipe for homemade crème fraîche)
  • optional: a few drops of milk, water or cream
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (I also like smoked salt as as substitute for the salt and pepper - it's delish!)
Get out your sharpest knife, or mandolin, and slice radishes as thin as possible. With bigger radishes like watermelon or black, you may want to halve or quarter the rounds. Scatter radishes onto individual plates or a larger platter.  Whisk crème fraîche with a few drops of liquid to make it a little loose. Scoop a generous dollop of the runny crème fraîche onto the radishes. Sprinkle smoked salt, or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper over the entire dish. That was easy, right?



Serves 4
  
The days are getting longer, birds have returned to our garden, our fruit trees are leafing out, and asparagus has come to the farmer's market. I don't know about you, but I get a jolt of childlike glee every time I see a new sign that spring is on its way! 

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