I’ve been on a real watermelon kick lately. I used to kind of hate it, especially the way it took up too much space in a fruit cup, but ever since my boyfriend’s mom put out a huge tupperware full of big, cold watermelon squares Memorial Day weekend I’ve been a little obsessed. I love coming home from a sweaty workout and sinking my teeth into sweet, juicy chunks. It’s just as thirst-quenching as water but with a total flavor bonus. And, since I have it around all the time now, I’ve been tossing cubes into my salads for lunch.
Everyone is well familiar with the watermelon-feta combo, but I’ve added cucumber (another hydrating fruit) and avocado. If you’ve never had avocado and feta together, it’s a real treat. Yes, they’re both creamy, but only the feta is sharp, providing the avocado with that dash of salt it needs. This one’s a summer keeper, I’ll be sad to see the watermelons go at the end of the season.
watermelon + avocado salad with feta
Today I competed in an ice cream contest called The Takedown where about 25 amateur chefs created their most inventive ice cream flavors for some ice cream-related judges and the public – my flavor was baklava. I was really pleased with how it turned out but it definitely was more work than your average flavor so I would probably save this one for when you’re really trying to impress. I didn’t win any grand prize, but the judges from Adirondack Creamery and Blue Marble Ice Cream gave me honorable mention for my “labor of love”.
I had to make 2 gallons and things just kind of unfolded as I went along, so the quantities for the syrup below are estimates. The cool thing about this ice cream is that you get to dig around for things and their all worth digging for – the chewy pistachios coated in honey syrup (the syrup gets chewy too) and the buttery flakes of phyllo dough. It doesn’t matter if you get a bite of dry phyllo from the top or a moist piece that’s been sandwiched between ice cream and syrup, both are great because it’s new texture and buttery flavor no matter which way you slice it. And, even if for some reason you don’t get bits and pieces, you still get that baklava flavor somehow. Hopefully you’ll give it a whirl!
baklava ice cream
makes about 2 quarts
ingredients for ice cream
ingredients for pistachios in syrup
ingredients for phyllo dough
To make the ice cream:
To make the syrup:
To make the phyllo dough:
To build ice cream:
I don’t even know what this is, all I know is that I like it. This recipe was inspired by too many cravings – a creamy potato salad, curried chicken salad, Waldorf salad, a midwestern potluck “salad”…I had every intention of making a creamy potato salad using sweet potatoes (sweet twist on a picnic classic) but then I decided to substitute yogurt for the mayo. Yogurt got me thinking of a Waldorf salad and so I added some fruit. Nothing tastes better than mint and ginger tossed in a fruit salad, but then the yogurt got bland, so I added curry and honey and it took on a whole new identity. This may sound weird but I promise, it’ll kill just about any craving. Would be lovely served with chicken or fish or part of a picnic potluck.
curried sweet potato + fruit salad
I wanted to share a quick recipe I threw together this morning. I love the flavor of green tea; I get so excited when I discover a green tea ice cream with a strong flavor (Lime Tree Deli, 9th Street & 1st Ave, NYC). I used matcha green tea powder to make sure I got the flavor I wanted. I would’ve added half a banana but I was out so I used chia seeds instead to get that thick mouthfeel. I am pretty wired now but it’s totally worth the flavor!
green tea + date smoothie
makes about 2 cups
This quiche is so flavorful and delicious, it’s difficult to have just one slice. It’s hard to mess up ricotta and eggs, you could add just about any ingredient to the mix, but I’ve used fava beans for texture and a mix of leafy greens. The lemon zest really makes this so don’t omit it!
I used a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom but had some crust and filling leftover, so I would recommend using a 10-inch pie pan with some depth.
ricotta + fava bean quiche
makes about 10 slices
I was in Mexico last weekend hosting a group of editors in the magical town of Morelia. As a representative for the Mexican avocado industry, I was introducing food writers to the ancient tradition of avocado harvesting. In addition to touring avocado orchards, I get to eat some of the most wonderful foods I have ever eaten. These trips, which I go on about once a year, are what have made me fall in love with authentic Mexican cuisine. It will take many more trips before I can digest and wrap my head around the multitude of earthy ingredients that go into this deep rooted cuisine, but for now we can start with a recipe for chiles capones.
The chile used in this recipe is the pasilla chile or also called chile negro or black chile. It is the dried form of a pepper called chilaca. The pasilla is long, narrow and wrinkled, dark in color and rich in flavor. It is mild in heat but sometimes can be medium hot. For this recipe you will have to soak the chiles for several hours before using them, but in some recipes all you need to do is heat them to make them pliable. I love the deep earthy flavor dried chiles bring to a dish – they are wonderful in salsas, broths and rich sauces, like mole. To learn more about chiles and to try other recipes, see Diana Kennedy’s write up on Mexican chiles in Food & Wine.
I had these chiles capones at a restaurant in Morelia called Los Mirasoles. Our tour guide, Deborah, recommended them years ago and I still ooh and aah when I eat them. For something so rich and complex in flavor you’ll be surprised at how easy they are to make. You start with a saute of onion and tomatillos then slowly add the cheese. If you taste the mixture before the cheese is added, you’ll taste the tartness of the tomatillos and understand why so much cheese is added. You’ll also notice that no salt is required thanks to the cotija.
serves 3 (I know this is odd, but it’s the truth)