Friday, October 25, 2013

Roasted Root Vegetables with Balsamic and Goat Cheese


For several years, my brother lived in a little town in Northern Italy called Sacile. We visited him last year just after the significant earthquakes hit the balsamic capital of the world, Modena, deeply damaging both the production of balsamic and cheese making.
So, a few weeks ago, when my brother asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year, wine or balsamic, I was quick to beg for balsamic. I thought he would send one bottle. Imagine my delight when the following showed up in the mail last week!
Four gorgeous bottles straight from Modena. Each is worthy of being tasted by the spoon (which reminds me, I should bring them out tonight. The women who live on the homes on my driveway are coming over for dinner. We're making foods from the cookbook Jerusalem. More on that later.)

I wanted a recipe that would showcase the balsamic without letting it overpower the dish. As he usually does, Tyler Florence came through. I used the recipe in his book Tyler's Ultimate as my inspiration. He suggests it as a side dish, but with a few mixed greens and lemon, it makes a perfect fall lunch.


They say stolen food is the sweetest. And stolen vegetables are far more appealing to little diners. Maybe that will be my new tactic for encouraging them to eat more.


Serves four 

1 parsnip, peeled and sliced into rounds
2 turnips, peeled and quartered
2-4 shallots, peeled and halved
4 carrots, peeled and left whole
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup honey
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

6-8 cups mixed baby greens
juice of half a lemon
4 ounces goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place vegetables in a large baking dish and toss to coat with olive oil and a generous pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

Roast for about 30 minutes. In a small dish, whisk together the balsamic and honey. Remove the par-cooked vegetables from the oven and toss with the balsamic-honey mixture. Return to the oven and roast for about an hour more, or until the vegetables are fork tender and caramelized.

Serve warm with mixed greens and a few chunks of goat cheese.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Mofongo and Eggs

The problem with becoming a professional food writer -- and hear me say, I am so not complaining -- is that you spend all your time cooking for a camera and sending your recipes off to an editor. I miss just sharing them with you, getting to tell stories about the food, launching into brief but satisfying political diatribes, and talking about food simply for the sheer pleasure of cooking and eating.

So, after working full time in Santa Monica as a staff writer and editor for the last several months and helping launch a new online magazine, I'm thrilled to be back to my freelance career with a bit of time to spare indulging in this blog. This is my first post since March, so I thought it should be good -- no pressure -- and waited until I had something worth sharing.

A couple weeks ago Rich and I went on a surf date at Venice Beach and then hit up this adorable brunch spot called Sunny Spot. Nothing is more satisfying that a strong cup of coffee and a huge messy platter of savory food after two hours in the ocean. Topping the brunch menu was Muh-F'k'n Mofongo and Eggs. (Yes, that's it's actual name.) Mofongo is native to Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic and typically contains mashed, fried plantains and garlic with pork. Sunny Spot took mofongo to the next level though with caramelized fennel, applewood smoked bacon, fried eggs and Sriracha. Seriously. Really, really, really good.


Plantains look like large, angular bananas, but they're starchier and less sweet, making them a perfect ingredient in savory cooking. So, get your hands on some and whip up mofongo.

For each serving
2 slices applewood smoked bacon
1/4 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ripe plantain, peeled and sliced on a bias
1 egg, fried  
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Sriracha 
Cilantro, for serving

Cook the bacon over medium-low heat until it renders a significant amount of fat and is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. Remove the meat and reserve two tablespoons of grease.

Cook the fennel and ginger for about 5-7 minutes, until fragrant and soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Remove the mixture to another dish, leaving as much of the oil in the pan as possible.

Add the reserved bacon grease and turn the heat up to medium-high. Fry the plantains, browning them on each side. Remove them to a large mortar and pestle and mash together with the garlic and fennel mixture. Cut the bacon into small pieces and add to the plantain mash.


 Meanwhile, return the skillet to the stove and cook an egg sunny side up.

To serve, place the mofongo in the center of a serving bowl, top with the egg, garnish with cilantro and drizzle Sriracha around the plate.