Work-Life Balance In the Culinary Industry

 

 

Get to Know It: Smoked Paprika

Corn on the cob with paprika

I can’t think of a single smoky-flavored food I don’t love. Smoked salmon and trout, all manner of BBQ, bacon…but living in Brooklyn with outdoor cooking prohibited and a sensitive fire alarm makes achieving that flavor with fire nearly impossible. Enter: smoked paprika.

I first added this spice into my culinary repertoire about five years ago when making David Tanis’ Pimenton Roast Chicken with Crispy Potatoes. To be honest, before this recipe I shied away from most dishes with paprika. I’m not sure why exactly. Probably because the only paprika I tasted growing up was a generic supermarket brand that had been sitting in the back of my parents’ spice drawer for years. I thought paprika was a spice that added a red hue but not much else to a dish. Boy, was I wrong.

Tanis’ crisp-skinned roast chicken had a depth of flavor I didn’t know was possible without open-fire cooking. It was garlicky, a little bit spicy and with a deep smoky aroma. With the success of this recipe, smoked paprika quickly inherited valuable real estate in my spice rack.

fish tacos with toppings
This spice is made most often in Spain where ripe red chile peppers are dried slowly over smoldering oak for up to two weeks before being ground into the powder we find on market shelves. Other aliases include pimenton, smoked pimenton, and Spanish paprika. The second you take a whiff, you’ll know you have the right spice. You can also find it at varying levels of heat, from sweet (dulce) to spicy (picante). I like all of them so that’s just a matter of personal preference.

cauliflower with paprika

Below are several favorite ways to use smoked paprika in cooking. This is a spice you can be quite heavy handed with, so don’t be shy. Give one or two of them a try and I promise you’ll be hooked.

On vegetables – sprinkle over roasted or grilled corn, cauliflower, sweet potatoes,

In vinaigrettes – add a pinch or two to a mix 50/50 mix of lime/olive oil (add a touch of honey or agave too, and of course salt and pepper to taste)

On proteins – sprinkle over fried eggs, season a mild white fish like halibut with it for fish tacos (use cumin too), use it on any poultry, or even use it as your secret ingredient in burgers

On pepitas – when toasted pumpkin seeds on the stovetop, add a little olive oil, salt, and smoked paprika for the last few minutes of toasting

On legumes – fry chickpeas in olive oil on the stovetop for about 10-15 minutes until crispy, adding a generous pinch of smoked paprika for the last few minutes and then finishing the whole thing with a squeeze of lime juice

With love always, Laura

 

 

Summer Grilling: Spiced Butterflied Chicken with Tahini Yogurt and Mint Chimichurri

 

Summer weather has finally arrived in New York City and with that an entirely new world of possibilities has opened up. Picnics in the park, drinks at a rooftop bar, and weekend beach escapes are just a few of the many options that New Yorkers have as an outlet to beat the scorching heat. Personally, I think nothing screams summer more than a barbecue.

Grilling outside feels primal somehow. Cooking outdoors over an open flame harkens back to the very first cooking methods, and even though we have evolved, it is still one of the most delicious. I love the crisp char of grilled meat or vegetables coupled with the smoky aroma that they release into the breeze. Over time, I have learned through trial and error what works best on the grill versus what proves to be a very messy or frustrating experience. In the end, the biggest problem for me has always been striking the balance between having an enjoyable outdoor grilling experience while keeping in mind that I live New York City, a place with almost no nature and an extremely low tolerance for open flames.

Once, about a year back, I got the opportunity to take a day off from chef life and attend a backyard party in the Lower East Side. The afternoon was beautiful, the drinks were flowing and the vision of so many “artisanal” bratwursts was a sight to behold. I watched as the grill was piled with burgers, steaks and franks. The grill cracked and popped at the influx of raw ingredients and flames began to lick up over the grate. The grill was obviously overloaded, but I was hesitant to jump into chef mode. Onlookers observed as the small flames and wisps of smoke steadily grew. The mood quickly escalated into panic as a full-fledged fire emerged and began to dance around the telephone wires six feet up. All ended quickly and safely but I have been forever traumatized by my first New York City grilling experience.

 
Summer grilling at sunset

I have since dedicated much time and practice to learning the art and grace of outdoor grilling. Cooking on my own rooftop has become an amazing dinnertime ritual now that the weather allows and the sun stays up later. Rian and I frequently experiment with new glazes or rubs, so I thought I would share last night’s delicious endeavor of grilling a butterflied chicken. This was a play on a chicken tagine that we have been making for clients of late. The result wa
s a charred and flavorful crust that gave way to tender and juicy meat. We enjoyed the entire bird over a swoosh of Tahini Yogurt and topped with a drizzle of mint chimichurri. I have since decided that I never want to go back to traditional roasting.

 

For the Chicken:

1 Chicken, butterflied

1 tbs chili powder

1 tbs Cumin

3 cloves Garlic, minced

1 tbs Smoked paprika

1 tbs Ground Coriander

1 tbs olive oil

For the Chimichurri:

1/2 cup cilantro

1/2 cup mint

1 clove garlic

2 tbs parsley

1/4 cup lime juice

1/2 cup olive oil

pinch of salt

To make the chimichurri: combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until chopped finely. Allow to rest and develop the flavors.

To make the chicken: In a bowl, combine the spices, garlic and olive oil until a paste forms. Rub the paste under the skin of the chicken and on top until evenly coated. Sprinkle a liberal amount of salt and pepper on top and head toward the grill!

Turn the grill on medium high and cook skin side down for 15 minutes. Flip the chicken and continue to cook for an additional 30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve scattered with cracked green olives, a dollop of tahini yogurt and a drizzle with chimichurri.

With Love,  Kristina

 

The Green Goddess

Green goddess dressing.

I’ve known about green goddess dressing for a while now, but I have to admit that up until recently, its ingredients were somewhat of a mystery to me. Herbs, of course, and something creamy, for sure. But was that greek yogurt, or was it buttermilk? Avocado, or just green herbs? A hint of anchovy, or am I just making things up?

I don’t know about you, but when I hear “green goddess” notions of healthy grain bowls, sunny weather and glowing skin come to mind. New Californian cooking. As far as I’m concerned, it sounds like quintessential health food branding. Right?

While many recipes proved my theory correct, featuring fresh, healthful ingredients like herbs, avocado, greek yogurt and lemon, I was surprised to learn that a wholesome green goddess recipe is something of a reformed party girl.

The green goddess got its start in 1920s New York, when a broadway show of the same name premiered and gained popularity. Following its rise, a chef at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco invented a green dressing in its honor.

A green goddess with cilantro, greek yogurt, avocado and lime.

And the original recipe had absolutely nothing to do with health. Think mayonnaise, sour cream, anchovies, tarragon and chives. Delicious? Definitely. Wholesome? Not so much.

That said, this recipe – now nearly a century old – is far from obsolete. Many contemporary green goddesses have decadent, old-school vibes, requesting a heavy hand with rich dairy and classic French herbs.

Personally, I prefer a green goddess with greek yogurt and lots of citrus. To me, these versions are cleaner and brighter.

But that’s what’s great about the green goddess. She’s a chameleon. You can really make this dressing your own. Craving something avocado-forward? Go for it. Need to finish that buttermilk before it goes bad? Use it. Want to make anchovies your star? Sounds great. Forgot them at the grocery store? It will still be delicious!

I suggest preparing a batch of green goddess on Sunday evening to get you through the start of your work week. It’s versatile, so making it doesn’t require committing to one specific dinner idea. You can dress your salads with it, marinate your proteins in it, use it to amp up your grain bowls, or even let it guest star on taco night.

Below, you’ll find a few renditions I know and like. If you’re going to marinate a protein, I suggest following this recipe by Melissa Clark. Otherwise, simply use the ideas below to spark your creativity. After all, that’s what the green goddess is all about.

Green Goddess I

Combine parsley, basil, greek yogurt, garlic, lemon juice and zest, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth.

Green Goddess II

Combine parsley, mint, basil, cilantro, sour cream, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth.

Adapted ever so slightly from Mina Stone’s recipe in Cooking For Artists (p 33).

Green Goddess III

Combine tarragon, chives, greek yogurt, anchovies*, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth.

*I suggest using 1-2 anchovies. If using, be sure to season less aggressively; anchovies add a lot of salt!

Green Goddess IV

Combine cilantro, avocado, greek yogurt, garlic, lime juice and zest, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

A Word on Smoothies

Fruits and vegetables for smoothies
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day–or so they say. I tend to start each morning full of healthy resolve but find that it crumbles with each passing moment. After an entire day of running around the city cooking delicious meals for other people, dinner often turns into a free-for-all in which I succumb to every craving.

With this honest acknowledgement, I have learned that one of the most successful and simplest routines to fall into is to start each morning on the right foot, with a quick, low-maintenance and nourishing meal. My ultimate to-go meal is a smoothie.

Herbs citrus and ginger for smoothie

I love smoothies for many reasons. First and foremost, they are easy to throw together. Literally just toss the ingredients in a blender and whizz until it has reached a smooth consistency. Second, it is a great way to use anything in the fridge that may be on its way out. No discrimination against a slightly overripe banana or ugly avocado when everything ends up pulverized in the blender anyway. Texture trumps appearance. For example, avocados add creaminess to a smoothie, as does banana.

Carrot Mise en place

Most people are comfortable with fruit smoothies but are more hesitant to add vegetables to the mix. The key is to make sure that there is a good balance between some of the more strongly flavored veggies (such as kale or parsley) and the sweetness of the fruit. The addition of veggies provides an opportunity to get even more vitamins and fiber into one cup and cut down a little bit on the sugar and calories.

Fruit mise en place

When making a smoothie, the main components are as follows:

A Base – Water, milk, almond milk, coconut milk or juice, etc.

Vegetables – Spinach, kale, cucumber, beet, carrot, celery, parsley, ginger, cilantro, avocado, mint, etc. I’ve been known to throw kale stems in here but this isn’t for everyone:)

Fruit – Endless but my favorites are apples, oranges, bananas, mangos, pineapples, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, grapes, etc. Using frozen fruit is great for texture.

Additions – Protein powder, nut butter,  yogurt, dates, flax seed, chia seed, cinnamon, etc.

Yogurt milk oats chia seeds and dates

Combos can be mixed and matched from any of the above ingredients, and really the sky is the limit. If you are green smoothie/veg-fruit smoothie newbie, start with a lower veg:fruit ratio and slowly increase the ratio as your taste allows. I can’t begin to describe some of the more unusual results I have subjected my roommate Rian to sampling in the past. Laura won’t even try some of these but my tastes buds are happy. Below are a few introductory options that even the most green-smoothie-averse will enjoy. For our clients, we prepackage the italicized ingredients in ziplock baggies in the freezer and then they can simply dump them into their blenders and add in their other ingredients day-of for a quick, healthy, kid-friendly breakfast or snack option. They serve one person very generously or two kids.  I hope you enjoy them too!

With love,

Kristina

Green Smoothie for health

 

Green Machine Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 Banana

1 Cup shredded kale

1/2 Avocado

1/2 Apple

1 Tsp Chia Seeds

1 Cup Almond Milk (plus optional 1/2 cup plain Greek or regular yogurt)

 

Berry Green Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 Cup Strawberries

1 Cup Blueberries

1 Cup Spinach

1 Cup Almond Milk (plus optional 1/2 cup plain Greek or regular yogurt)

 

Green Monster Smoothie

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Pineapple

1/2 Cup Mango

1/2 Banana

1 Cup Spinach

1 Cup Almond Milk (plus optional 1/2 cup plain Greek or regular yogurt)

 

Banana Date Smoothie (This isn’t a green smoothie but its such a big hit, I wanted to share in anyways.)

Ingredients:

1 Banana, sliced

4 Dates, chopped

1 Pinch Cinnamon

1 Cup Almond Milk (plus optional 1/2 cup plain Greek or regular yogurt)

 

Method: Tumble into a blender and blend for consistent texture. Enjoy! We prepackage the italicized ingredients in ziplock baggies in the freezer. Each recipe serves one person very generously or two kids.