le almond

If I had to choose one pastry to eat for the rest of my life it would be an almond croissant. To me, it is pastry perfection: flaky dough that is slightly crisp on the outside yet pillowy soft on the inside, filled with a heavenly concoction of almonds, butter, and sugar. The waste-hater in me is also endeared by the fact that almond croissants are made using the previous day’s leftover croissants, a tidbit I learned from my sister who lived in Paris for nearly a year during college.
My fondness for almond croissants is bolstered by the memories I have of eating them. In high school, my friends and I frequented a a French bakery for after school snacks, putting our newly minted driver’s licenses to the most indulgent of uses. When my sister was living in Paris, I had a two-hour layover in the Charles de Gaulle Airport and she came and met me at the terminal. We hadn’t seen each other in nearly six months, and she brought us almond croissants from her favorite Parisian bakery to share over coffee and catch-up conversation. Four years later, I visited Paris myself and made it a priority to get a croissant from this very same bakery. To this day, I don’t think I’ll ever find anything that rivals its butteriness, flakiness, and all-encompassing decadence.
While I have not yet gained the courage or dough-making prowess to tackle baking almond croissants myself, I recently made a cake that was deliciously reminiscent of the filling of an almond croissant. I found the recipe in a great  new baking cookbook and it’s name, “Le Almond,” immediately stuck out to me. This cake uses four pure ingredients for its flavor profile—almond paste, vanilla bean, lemon, and orange—and allows each of them to shine through one and a half whopping sticks of butter and a scant amount of flour, resulting in an exceedingly moist, rich cake. I’d suggest cutting this cake into small squares to serve. A little bit of this cake goes a long way in adding a special sweet touch to a brunch spread and to bringing a little bit of my favorite French pastry to life.
Le Almond
From The Sugar Cube cookbook
Recipe makes 2 loaves (I halved it to make 1)
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 7-oz tubes almond paste, broken into pieces
1 cup + 1 tbsp sugar
2 lemons
2 oranges
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter at room temp, cut into chunks
7 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Citrus soak:
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 2 oranges
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp water
1/4 vanilla bean
Confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 325. Butter and flour two 9×5 loaf pans.
For cake: Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl (or use a whisk to mix them together).
Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat almond paste and sugar on low speed until mixture is sandy and only small lumps remain, 3-5 minutes. Turn mixer off and grate zest of 2 lemons and 2 oranges into mixing bowl to catch the oils. Turn mixer to medium and gradually at the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium-high and mix until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and remix in any clumps. Add eggs one at a time with mixer on medium speed, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Scrape down sides of bowl again. Add in flour and mix in on low speed until just combined. Scrape down bowl one last time and the pour batter into prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake in center of oven until knife inserted in center comes out clean, 50-60 minutes. Cake will be darkish red-brown in color when ready.
For citrus soak: combine lemon juice, orange juice, sugar, and water in medium saucepan. Split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Add seeds to pan along with pod and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 1 minute to thicken and concentrate flavors. Remove from heat and discard pod.
Let cake cool in pan on wire rack for about 20 minutes. Invert it onto a parchment-lined wire rack. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Brush liberally with citrus glaze and let cool completely before cutting into thick slices.

out of bed and into the kitchen

I’ve written before about how much I love brunch. While going out for brunch is always a real treat, the past two weekends I have stayed in for brunch, sharing leisurely Sunday midmorning meals among good friends. I have to admit that, unlimited refills of coffee aside, these homemade brunches just might trump the restaurant versions. One of the main reasons is because they have given me an excuse to have my hands deep in dough at 7:30am on a Sunday morning.

Such was the case two Sunday mornings ago, when I awoke with visions of vanilla sugar dancing in my head. Although I had already baked a decadent almond cake for brunch the night before (recipe coming soon), something inside beckoned me to preheat the oven and imbue the gray and misty morning with warmth and sweetness. I had all the ingredients on hand for my favorite cream scone recipe, which exclusively uses heavy cream as the fat element and comes together in a matter of minutes—the perfect recipe for a tranquil early morning in the kitchen.
While the original recipe calls for lemon zest and cranberries, I had vanilla bean on the brain, and thus, a new version of this scone was born complete with a vanilla bean glaze. These delicate mini scones were pure, simple, and delicious on their own, but also paired well with lemon curd at our brunch. Take this basic recipe and make it your own. I hope it adds a sweet touch to a leisurely Sunday brunch in many of your homes.

Vanilla Bean Cream Scones
(Adapted from Bon Appetit)
Makes about 24 mini scones

1 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 vanilla bean
1 1/4 cups whipping cream

1/2 vanilla bean
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp half and half (or heavy cream)
Preheat oven to 425°F. Add sugar to a large bowl and scrape vanilla bean seeds into it. Rub mixture with your fingers to create a vanilla sugar. Add flour, baking powder and salt to sugar mixture. Add whipping cream and stir just until dough forms. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead gently just until dough holds together. Form dough into 10-inch-diameter, 1/2-inch-thick round. Cut into 12 wedges and then cut each wedge in half to create 24 mini scones. Place scones on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, until lightly golden. Transfer to rack to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, to make glaze, scrape seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean into a small bowl and combine with powdered sugar and half and half until smooth. Add more sugar or cream as needed to create desired texture. Spoon glaze over scones while they are still warm and allow glaze to set as scones cool completely.

the sweet part of the city (minneapolis edition)

“I started a list of potential things to do this weekend… so far it’s 15 restaurants, 3 bars, and 3 actual things to do.”

Thus began an email from Anna (mentioned here before for her Pimm’s cup skills) on the eve of our spontaneous weekend jaunt to the Twin Cities. And I’m proud to report back from an amazing tour de food in the Land of the Wind Chill Factor. We ate and we ate and we did pretty much no actual things and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Here are the highlights:


I made a pitstop near Madison at “da apple orchard vit da Norvegian exposure” (per Eplegaarden’s absolutely hilarious website). There was a sign on the gate that said “No cell phones. Loud talking disturbs the Norwegians.” I came away with 23.5 pounds of apples. Orchards exacerbate my struggles with moderation. Applesauce recipe forthcoming.

Muddy Waters:

This cafe-by-day/bar-by-night was our first stop when we rolled into town. This place has some of the best bar food in MPLS  and the chances are good that you’ll spot a local celebrity before you finish your beer. We saw nobody famous on Friday but were consoled by Mushroom and leek pizza, pear and brie grilled cheese, and pints of Surley.

Bryant Lake Bowl:

Cozy pub/ brunch spot in the front, old-school bowling alley in the back. Lemon ginger scone + broccoli and white cheddar scramble. But it was way too beautiful a day outside to stay inside and bowl.

Common Roots Cafe:

Afternoon coffee with a view…

Jasmine Deli:

Every time I go to Eat Street, a famous row of restaurants with cuisine from all over the world, I swear I will go somewhere other than Jasmine Deli. But I always end up at Jasmine Deli because it’s my favorite. “Okay,” I think, “at least I’ll order something different this time.” And then I get the exact same thing as always, noodle salad with tofu. I can’t really imagine a trip to Minneapolis without it at this point. I’ll bear the title of creature of habit with relish.

Sebastian Joe’s:

Can’t pass up ice cream at S.Joe’s, even on a winteresque evening. With great trepidation, I forwent my favorite (banana/coffee/chocolate chip) in favor of pumpkin spice. I was not disappointed. Neither were Anna and Daniel.

Victor’s 1959 Cafe:

The upper midwest is probably the last place on earth that I’d expect to find delicious Cuban food. Joanna was not surprised. “Cubans are everywhere. We’re taking over,” she tells me. My black beans, scrambled eggs, and guava jam were gone before I could take a picture for the blog.

Isle Bun and Coffee:

Having been raised on homemade, from scratch and nothing but the best, I’m choosy about my cinnamon rolls.  Isle Bun is one of the few places I’ve ever had a roll that can hold a candle to Grandma Kay’s. The smell at this place was enough to make me want to drop out of med school and convince Joanna to open a bakery with me. But that’s probably just the sugar talking.  When I asked the bakery lady to box up a roll to go so I could take it back to my people in Chicago, she said, “you better put it in the trunk so it survives the drive without you eating it.” Sage advice.

As I hope is abundantly clear by now, you should let me know if you ever find yourself in the fine city of Minneapolis and in need of a restaurant rec. I’m your girl. If you want ideas for actual things to do, though, you’re on your own.

food as fragrance

Last weekend I decided to tackle a chore I had been putting off for a while: giving my coffee pot a proper cleaning. The sources I consulted instructed me to run cycles of diluted vinegar and baking soda through the machine at least two times. I did so diligently, semi-aware of the rancid smell that was overtaking my apartment, but more intent on getting my machine squeaky clean. I figured I’d just let the acrid stench dissipate naturally, forgetting that I had a friend staying on my couch (which sits 5 feet from my kitchen) that very night.
I needed a fragrant fix. And I needed it fast.
Luckily, I had all the ingredients for one of my favorite fall staples on hand: ginger orange cranberry sauce. Once fresh cranberries hit the produce shelves, I buy a bag a week, throw them into a pot with orange zest, ginger, and sugar, add a dash of cinnamon and vanilla for extra warmth, and voila—I’m left with a vat of ruby-red, sweet, tart sauce that I pile on everything from oatmeal at breakfast, to yogurt at lunch, to what you now may know as my go-to dinner food, sweet potatoes. Perhaps the best part of making cranberry sauce—and the most important aspect this time around—are the incredible smells that emanate from the pot as the berries bubble and burst in a ginger-orange bath. The aromas give me the comfort of knowing that Thanksgiving is around the corner and that soon, I’ll get to make this cranberry sauce with my mom and eat it surrounded by family. And in case you were wondering, this cranberry sauce does an excellent job at making vinegary odors dissipate into an autumnal abyss.
Ginger Orange Cranberry Sauce

1 bag fresh cranberries

Zest of 1 orange
2-3 inches ginger root, finely grated
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)
Place cranberries, orange zest, ginger, sugar, and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring contents to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and allow mixture to boil for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all the cranberries have popped (you can tell the cranberries have popped when they have a slit in them). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and cinnamon if using. Allow mixture to come to room temperature in pot. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools. Enjoy warm on the spot, or store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

in excess

Here we have some quantities that are slightly excessive:

1) Bean/legume recipes on sugarcured lately. Lentils+chickpeas+chili+stew= a sure sign that the season of hibernation fare is upon us.

2) Cups of coffee I consumed this weekend. I am mostly incapable of studying on cold days unless I have a warm drink close at hand. I should probably learn to like decaf.

3) Pharmaceutical agents I need to memorize in the next 2.5 weeks

4) Onions caramelized in my kitchen in the last 48 hours.

Sometimes I get flavors stuck in my head the way normal people get songs stuck in their heads and this weekend caramelized onions were on repeat.

The lion’s share of those vegetables-in-candy’s-clothing went into this frittata. The recipe was loosely adapted from Marcella Hazan and largely governed by the ingredients I had in my fridge. It turned out so nice that I made it twice- for both Saturday and Sunday brunch.

This frittata is ridiculously simple. The only key to success here is to really caramelize these onions. I wish I had gotten around to writing a rant about the way recipes suggest that onions can be properly caramelized in 5 minutes before this author beat me to the punch. Figure on at 30 minutes to get the onions sufficiently soft and delicious.

Tomato and Caramelized Onion Frittata

1 T butter

3 c onions, thinly sliced

salt and pepper, to taste

1 t sugar

1 c thin slices of zucchini or summer squash

6 eggs

1/2 c crumbled feta or goat cheese

1 large tomato, thinly sliced

First, you’ll need a heavy skillet that is safe to go under the broiler. It should be 8-9″ in diameter and nonstick or cast iron.

Preheat the broiler on high heat.

Heat said skillet over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the onions, stirring to coat, and continue to cook until they are very soft and beginning to brown. If they start to get crispy before they are soft, turn down the heat. When they start to soften significantly (after 15 or 20 minutes of cooking), add the sugar and a pinch of salt and continue to cook until golden brown.

Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a large bowl, season with salt and pepper, and whisk thoroughly. Add half the cheese and whisk again to combine. Set aside.

Add the zucchini and cook for about 4 minutes until it is tender but not soggy. Add the eggs and stir to mix the liquid with the vegetables. Place the tomato slices on top in a single layer and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Let cook about 6 minutes over medium low. The bottom half of the egg mixture should cook through but the top will still be liquid.

Transfer the skillet to the broiler and cook another 3-4 minutes until the eggs are solid and the cheese begins to brown. Be careful not to burn yourself when you remove the pan from the oven- it will be flamin hot (not that I have ever done anything klutzy like that). Let cool at least a few minutes before serving. Serve hot, warm, or at room temp, cut into wedges.

you get what you get

As I watched thousands of disgruntled Braves fans hurl trash at the umpires l during the crazy wild card play-in game on Friday night, I couldn’t help but think, “Sheesh, I kinda understand how that ump feels.” This week the universe has leveled a few souvenir pop cups and hot dog wrappers right at my head. I’ve been cramming nonstop to memorize an impossibly long list of pharmaceuticals and brain structures, I can’t reliably see out of my right eye, and I have discovered (over the course of three trips to the pharmacy in the last 36 hours) that the employees of the 55th Street Walgreens have made it their mission to make me as miserable and disgruntled as possible. I don’t want to scare you away with my whining, but I like to think that all of this would be enough to make anybody crabby.

As I try to dodge this debris and keep my whining to a relative minimum, I think about a favorite response to this kind of self-pity in my family’s vernacular:”you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”

Pretty much every time I get an unfair call from whoever/whatever is calling the cosmic balls and strikes of life, my instinct is to throw the kind of fit that would get me a 3-game suspension and an unflattering clip on SportsCenter.  Step two: remind myself that you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. Step three: throw a tiny fit but make it short and then start planning what kind of comfort food you’re going to make for dinner.

This mujadarra calmed me down from the verge of fit-throwing on more than one occasion this week. How could copious amounts of caramelized onions AND carbs not be anti-anxiety? It manages to be incredibly simple but not at all boring and its only ingredients are things that always have in my pantry: onions, lentils, and rice. It also allows me to burn things on purpose, a well documented source of joy for me and a damn good stress relieving technique. I highly suggest adding it to your comfort food repertoire. Or your “it’s Wednesday night and I have nothing in my fridge and I really shouldn’t order takeout again” repertoire. A few bites of mujadarra and you’ll be feeling like life pitched you a hanging curveball instead of a beer can doubling as a projectile missile.


2 T butter

2 T olive oil

6 c onions (don’t skimp!), halved and thinly sliced

1 c jasmine rice

1 c green lentils or French lentils, rinsed and picked over

1 t salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Put lentils, 1/2 t salt, and 4 c water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cook until tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile*, cook the rice. Add rice, 1/2 t salt, and 1 1/2 c water to a heavy, oven-proof pot. Bring to a boil. When rice begins to boil, cover, transfer to the oven, and cook for exactly 17 minutes. Yep, I doubted this technique too, but it worked like a charm for me. And I’m sort of inept at cooking rice, so I’ll take any zanily successful techniques I can find.

Meanwhile, cook the onions. Melt butter with 1 T olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onions and toss to coat. Cook over medium low- slow and steady is important here – for about 5 minutes or until the onions start releasing juices. Raise the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and a deep golden brown. This took about 20 minutes for me. Add the last tablespoon of olive oil and turn the heat to high. Cook 3-4 more minutes until the bottom layer of onions starts to get very crispy/burnt. Try not to stir too much or they won’t get crisp.

Combine rice, lentils, and onions and let sit for at least 15 minutes to marry the flavors. It gets better the longer it sits (mmmmm leftovers for lunch!) Yes, it’s really that simple. Serve with greek yogurt, and chopped onions and tomatoes.

*A note on the “meanwhiles”…if “multitask” is your middle name then 1) hey, we share a middle name! That’s cool! and 2) you can cook the lentils, rice, and onions pretty much simultaneously. If you prefer to cook at a more leisurely pace or are terrified of having 3 burners plus the oven going at once, feel free to take one step at a time.

chili weather

It happened.
Today the temperatures hit the low 40s. I walked in the dreary rain to buy a hot coffee to keep me going through an afternoon of midterm reviews, puzzled by the fact that just yesterday I was basking in the sunshine. The Miami girl in me dreads the transition into the chilly depths of fall. These first forays into the 40s are just the beginning of months of wearing layers upon layers of clothing and watching hard-earned summer tan lines fade into a monochromatic abyss. But the newfound Midwesterner in me has come to appreciate the coziness that accompanies the change in weather. Nights like tonight, where a weekend of studying looms ahead and the cold wind blows me straight into my apartment and a pair of sweatpants, invite the creation of a comforting meal.
Kate and I came together this evening to concoct this hearty, spicy vegetarian chili. We used three types of beans: garbanzos, black beans, and lentils, the latter which help impart a more ground beef-like texture without using meat or any meat substitute. Making this chili was all about eye-balling ingredients, so the measurements written below are a bit rough, but in our opinion, making a big pot of soup is all about adding dashes of this and that until your tastebuds are satisfied.
Served with homemade cornbread that Kate whipped up and a healthy dose of drugs (pharmacology studies, that is), this chili helped combat the inevitable chill that is taking over the city.
Three Bean Vegetarian Chili
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, diced
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
4 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp oregano
1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes in juice
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 can garbanzos, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup dry lentils
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cup frozen corn
In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute onion for about 5 minutes, until beginning to become translucent. Add garlic and carrot and saute another 3 minutes. Add bell pepper and jalapeno and saute another 3 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, and tomato paste and allow to cook for about 1 minute. Deglaze the pot with red wine. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, and beans. Allow to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often to prevent contents from sticking to the bottom of the pan. At this point, sample the chili and add salt, sugar, frozen corn, and any more spices to suit your taste. If the chili has absorbed a lot of liquid, add water in 1-2 cup increments. Allow chili to cook for another 25-30 minutes, stirring often, until lentils are tender.
Serve with a generous hunk of cornbread and toppings of your choice. Our recommendations: cheddar, diced avocado, cilantro, and lime.

grocery store gushing

I have had a lifelong love affair with grocery stores. Proof:
– I cried when I had to leave my preschool field trip to the grocery store early because I missed the part where the bakery was going to make frosting rosettes for each of us.
– I thought still think it would be awesome to have a sleepover in a grocery store.
– I thought that “Publix” (our grocery store in Florida) and “public” were synonymous until I was about five. In my mind, there was no more important public/x forum.
– One of my favorite parts of the newspaper to read in high school were the grocery store circulars.
– I have been known to use a spare half hour or hour to wander aimlessly—and often sample my way—through grocery stores.
– I wrote my college Writing I course research paper on controversies surrounding Whole Foods.
– The day I moved to Chicago, after a full day of flying and acquiring furniture, I made it a priority to visit all three grocery stores in my neighborhood.
– Kate and I made a grocery store tour video for the first year medical students.
I find grocery stores to be a fascinating representation of the neighborhood in which they reside. Each reveals something about the people who shop there and about the culture of the area. In food deserts, the paucity of fruits and vegetables and predominance of packaged chips and cookies highlights health disparities. In contrast, the glistening array of all manners of produce that shine brightly in higher-end stores speaks to the access its shoppers have to bountiful, healthy food choices. In Latin grocery stores in Miami, the pastry counter teems with croquetas, pastelitos, and empanadas, greeting its shoppers with familiar flavors of home.
One of my most recent grocery escapades was to Patel Brothers, a South Asian grocery store in Chicago’s Devon neighborhood. The shelves were stacked from floor to ceiling with every type of spice, sugar, dried fruit, flour, bean, and grain imaginable. There were fruits and vegetables I had never seen before (banana flowers!?). It was amazingly overwhelming. Although time constraints didn’t allow me the luxury of being there for hours (trust me, I could have spent all day there), I did manage to score some great items. I used two of my purchases—mango ginger chutney and garam masala—in this sweet and spicy chickpea concoction. Like the greens and beans recipe Kate recently posted, this one is similarly fast to put together, but the leftovers made for three days of comforting meals after busy schooldays when galavanting around grocery stores is just a distant dream.
Curried Chutney Chickpeas 
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp freshly grated orange zest
1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp garam masala
1/3 cup mango ginger chutney (could also use another flavor of chutney or preserves you have on hand, such as apricot)
1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup tomato sauce
Generous squirt of sriracha or other hot sauce
1 bunch of kale, chopped (or other leafy green)
Salt to taste
Roasted cashews or sliced toasted almonds, for serving (optional)
Heat olive oil on medium high hit in a large skillet. Saute onion for 5-7 minutes until translucent. Add garlic and saute another minute. Add orange zest, curry powder, garam masala, and chutney and stir until combined. Allow mixture to cook for another minute for the spices to incorporate. Add tomato sauce and sriracha and stir to incorporate. Add kale and allow to cook for 5-7 minutes, until kale is wilted but still slightly tender. Add salt to taste. Serve atop grains (rice, couscous, quinoa) or with a sweet potato (my favorite!) and sprinkle with cashews or almonds.

Best of Chicago Eats

A year in Chicago has brought a year of fantastic food exploration. Here, we share with you some of our favorite eats of the past year.

Khandhari Naan: pistachio stuffed naan bread – India House

Smoked SalmonCalumet Fisheries

Pineapple Agua FrescaLa Chapparrita

Caldos and Churros with Homemade Soft Serve – Xoco

Carrot MuffinMedici on 57th

Down on the Farm Sandwich: goat cheese, muhammara, carrots, raisins, mixed greens, and honey mustard on french bread – Z&H MarketCafe

Birria (goat meat) with Homemade Tortillas and Fire-Roasted SalsaBirreria Zaragosa

Housemade Chorizo Taco with AvocadoCarniceria y Taqueria Tierra Caliente

Lemon PancakesKingsbury Street Cafe

Kale & Cornbread and Carrot Salad SandwichSoul Vegetarian East

Polish fare (blintzes, pierogi, stuffed cabbage) –  Podhalanka


Rib TipsLem’s Bar-B-Q

Oatmeal Shake and Chifrijo: black beans, chicharrones, veggies, and rice served served with chips – Irazu

Brunch in general – Lula Cafe

Grilled Sourdough Bread and Housemade JamNana Organic

Tater Tots with Barbecue, Honey Mustard, and Ranch Dipping Sauces – Skylark

Late Night Tamales– The Tamale Guy

Falafel Bowl with all the toppings – BenjYehuda

Seared Scallops with Tomato Chutney and Madras Curry Oil – Sable Kitchen & Bar

Mango Sorbet & Pistachio Ice CreamPaleteria el Portillo

Big Dat Glazed DonutDat Donut

Dat’s one big donut!

Let us know some of your favorite places!

mirepoix magnificent

I love good words almost as I love good food. Almost. The best thing is when delicious things have delicious names and that is exactly the case with mirepoix. In the Official English Dictionary of Kate-isms (the good old OEDK), “mirepoix” is what you say when you cast a little spell over a pan of wholly mundane ingredients and turn them into something scrumptious. I think it was the favorite spell of Hermione’s foodie roommate (oh you don’t remember her? I think she’s in the eighth book…)Image

The real life definition of mirepoix isn’t that far from the OEDK definition. You take some humble carrots, celery, and onions, you chop the bejeezus out of them, and you have a mirepoix. Saute in butter, deglaze with white whine, et mirepoix! … you’re on your way to all things bright and beautiful.


Specifically – if you’re cooking with me – you’re most likely on your way to this stew. Its heart and soul is mirepoix, its substance is white beans and greens, and it is a heavy hitter in my line-up of satisfying cold-weather meals. To the surprise of no one who cooks or eats with me often, I usually double or triple the amount of tomatoes in the recipe. The solid base of flavors contributed by the mirepoix withstands tinkering with the ratios of the other ingredients. I’m partial to the slight crunch of kale in this dish, but I sometimes use chard or spinach in its stead.

White Bean Stew

1 large bunch of kale- cleaned, removed from stems, and chopped into large pieces (substitute spinach or chard if desired)

2 T olive oil

1 c chopped carrots

1 c chopped celery

1 c chopped shallots (substitute onions if desired)

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup dry white wine (I use cheap vermouth)

2 15 oz cans white beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups vegetable broth (or 2 c water and a square of veggie bullion)

1 c crushed tomatoes (I often double or triple this)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Several sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 t dried thyme

Bring a medium pot of salted water to boil. Add the kale or chard (if using spinach, skip this step) and cook for just one minute. Drain and squeeze the water out of the greens. Set aside.

Dry out the pot, add oil, and heat over a medium-high flame. Add the mirepoix and garlic and cook for several minutes until everything is soft and the shallots are beginning to brown. Add the wine and cook until liquid is reduced by 3/4. Add beans, broth, tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes. You can simmer on low as long as you want- the flavors will only improve. Add the greens and cook 5 more minutes. Add more broth if you like a thinner stew. Serve with crusty bread and parmesan cheese.