Grilled haloumi salad

My husband and I took our honeymoon in New Zealand. We rented a campervan and drove around the south island for a while, stopping whenever we felt like it and staying in well-appointed campsites or local producers’ yards (we used a program called okay2stay which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND). One of the places we parked for the night was a roadside cheese shop (Yes, New Zealand IS the best). We bought fresh haloumi and grilled it outside the van for dinner, along with some eggs and fresh zucchini from another of our overnight farm spots. It was divine and I came home with a hankering for haloumi.

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The food in New Zealand was actually really good. I say actually because we were expecting fish & chips, meat, and cheese. What we found was that nearly every cafe had a baller fresh salad, usually with some great turkish or morroccan flavors going on. The New Zealanders love their grain salads and muesli parfaits. We were in heaven.

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Which brings me to this salad in particular. When we were in Auckland I had a legit bathroom emergency. I ran into the nearest coffee shop, which was EMPTY, of course, and buzzed right past the 2 people working and into the loo. When I got out I had to act like this was part of my plan all along, I DEFINITELY wasn’t thinking of peeing and fleeing (or….whatever else I might’ve done in there). So I ordered a blueberry muffin and they painfully toasted it for about 5 minutes. In that time I browsed some magazines and found an amazing food one called Delicious. It had PAGES of wonderfully constructed, interesting salads (I looked into subscribing when I got home but of course it cost like $2495 to ship to the US). I quickly snapped photos and waited for my muffin so I could get the hell out of that awkward and empty coffee shop. Long story short, this is one of them. So you can thank my bowels for this one. I promise you it’s worth it.

Ancient Grain Salad with Pan-Friend Haloumi
from Delicious

serves 4

3/4 cup farro (pearled) or freekeh
1/2 cup quinoa
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
500g haloumi, cut into 3cm pieces
1 bunch each mint and coriander (cilantro), leaves picked
400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
150g seedless black grapes, halved
1/3 cup (55g) pistachios, chopped

DRESSING
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil over med-high heat. Add farro and cook for 15 minutes, then add quinoa and cook for a further 20 minutes or until tender. Rinse under cold water and drain.

Heat oil in large frypan over medium heat (I used a grill pan). Cook haloumi, in catches, for 1-2 minutes each side until golden. Finely chop half the herbs and combine with grains, chickpeas, grapes, and pistachios.

Combine dressing ingredients, season and toss through salad. Serve salad topped with haloumi and remaining herbs.

Brussels sprouts & bacon frittata

Frittatas are a pretty magical brunch offering, because you can serve them fresh or after sitting on the counter for an hour. It frees up your morning schedule a bit. Plus they are as flexible as omelets. You literally (figuratively) can throw anything in there. I haven’t used a recipe for one in a while, but this one spoke to me. It spoke to me so damn much I made it 2 days in a row.

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Now friends, there is a fuck ton of bacon in here. Especially if you do go with the thick-cut like the recipe says. You can easily take out a slice or 2 and still have a wonderfully bacon-y amazing frittata. The other thing that is moderately nuts about this recipe is they never say to pour any of the bacon fat out after cooking. The bacon results in MASSIVE amounts of grease, and I could not in good conscience just leave that all in. I ended up pouring out more than 1/2 cup of bacon grease, because I am not an insane person who doesn’t give a shit about my health and wellbeing.

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We didn’t have gruyere, so I subbed in comte. Is that a sin? Perhaps, though I’ve long been a sinner. GUESS WHAT, I also used plain old regular cream instead of creme fraiche, because I simply don’t want to be that fancy. Other than that, have at it. Serve with LOTS of hot sauce, a fruit salad, or some punchy kale salad. Or just eat it on its own, for any meal, at any time.

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Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Frittata
from Huckleberry

Ingredients:

FILLING
8 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 springs fresh thyme
2 cups (180 g.) Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced, plus 1 cup (35 g.) Brussels sprouts leaves
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

CUSTARD
10 eggs
2 tbsp. crème fraîche
2 tbsp. grated Parmesan
1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 tbsp. Gruyère

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat your oven to 475ºF/240∘C.

2. To make the filling: In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, sauté the bacon in 2 tsp. of the olive oil and the butter, until browned. Add the onion, 1/2 tsp. of the salt, and the thyme and sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the sliced Brussels sprouts and sauté for about 5 minutes longer, until soft. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a bowl and set aside.

3. Toss the Brussels sprouts leaves in the remaining 1 tsp. olive oil, remaining 1/2 tsp. salt, and the pepper. Set aside.

4. To make the custard: In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, crème fraîche, Parmesan, and parsley. Set aside.

5. In a 10-in. (25-cm.) cast-iron or other ovenproof sauté pan, melt the 2 tbsp. butter over medium-high heat. Pour the custard into the pan and stir, lightly scrambling the eggs. Slowly add the vegetable mixture to the custard and continue scrambling. When the eggs are about 30 percent set, sprinkle with the Brussels sprouts leaves, top with the Gruyère, and transfer to the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until the frittata is cooked through and browned on top. If the frittata doesn’t show signs of browning, place under the broiler for 2 minutes, but watch it like a hawk!

6. Immediately transfer the frittata to a plate by running a spatula around the edges and underneath to free it from the pan. Serve hot or at room temperature.

This keeps well, refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

Brioche slider buns

I made these for the superbowl, which was arguably a long ass time ago, but it occurs to me there is another major sporting event going on. However, like Voldemort and the Olympics, mere mortals in the advertising business seem not to be able to say its name, resulting in a comedic number of commercials with whistles, dribbling sounds, and crowd noises shouting about how enthusiastic they are about the MARCH EVENT, but no tacit acknowledgment of what event they speak. Without putting myself in too hot water, I’d just like to say it would be MADNESS for you to not MARCH right into your kitchens and make these brioche buns. Swish!

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They are relatively easy as far as bread-type things go, and if you make a whole batch you can freeze a few individually wrapped in aluminum foil and they defrost in a jiffy for weekend egg sandwiches. Again, I can’t emphasize enough how much of a slam dunk these are. For “the game” we made pulled chicken sandwiches with pickles. Yumtown, friends.

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Brioche Buns
via use real butter, slightly modified from Fine Cooking

1 lb. 2 oz. (4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 oz. (4 1/2 tsps) active dry yeast
1/2 oz. (2 tsps) table salt
4 large eggs, room temperature
4 oz. (1/2 cup) whole milk, room temperature
8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces, softened

egg wash
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt

This recipe can be done in one day, but for best flavor, let the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator thus making it a two-day affair.

Make the dough: Combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add four eggs and the milk to the flour. Mix on low speed to combine. When the dough begins to clump, switch the paddle out for a dough hook. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the dough hook down. Mix on medium speed for another 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the dough hook down.

With the mixer on medium-low speed, add half (4 oz.) of the butter one piece at a time – allowing the previous piece of butter to incorporate into the dough before adding the next one. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the hook down. Remove the hook from the dough. Knead the dough by hand in the bowl for a few turns to help incorporate the butter -fold it over on itself while kneading. Reattach the dough hook and add the remaining butter a little at a time on medium-low speed. When all of the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium and mix for 4 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the dough hook and resume mixing for another 4 minutes on medium speed until the dough is slapping the sides of the bowl (it will be smooth and silky).

Let the dough rise twice: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand a few times. Slightly flatten the dough into a circle, then fold the top and bottom edges in toward the center. Now fold the left and right sides in toward the center. Turn the dough over so the smooth side is facing up. Tuck the edges under the dough to shape a nice round sphere. Place the dough ball, smooth-side up, in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free location for an hour or until doubled in size. Flip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times by hand. Form a dough ball like you did before (folding the four “edges” in toward the center, turning the dough over, and tucking the corners under to make a ball) and place in the bowl, smooth-side up. Cover with plastic. At this point, you can either let the dough rise for an hour (until doubled in size) or place it in the refrigerator overnight. I opted for overnight as it develops a better flavor.

Shape and proof the dough: If you refrigerated your dough, let it come to room temperature (about 2+ hours). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and form it into a ball (folding the four “edges” in toward the center, turning the dough over, and tucking the corners under to make a ball). To make brioche buns, cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. For other shapes (loaves, brioche à tête) please refer to the Fine Cooking recipe. Form each piece of dough into a smooth ball by gently stretching the top of the dough down around to the bottom on all sides. It’s like you’re petting the top of the dough, stroking it down and tucking it under the bottom. Turn 90 degrees and repeat until you have a nice and smooth ball. Set the dough balls on your baking sheet, 2-3 inches apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size (about an hour).

Bake the brioche buns: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Whisk 2 eggs, the egg yolk, and a pinch of salt together in a medium bowl. Lightly brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash, making sure there are no drips that reach the parchment. Bake until the tops are dark golden brown – about 15 minutes. The internal temperature should read 190°F. Let cool on the baking pans or on wire racks for 10 minutes. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, in the refrigerator for a week, or freeze for up to 5 weeks. They reheat well in a moderate oven (325°F) for about 7 minutes. Makes 12 buns.

Black Rice Chicken Congee Bowl

Heyyyyyyyyyy. Would love to breeze through the “it’s been a whiles” so….I am going to. Work/travel/you’ve heard it all before. I am now back and ready to share with you the current obsession in my household (aka 1-bedroom apartment stupid San Francisco housing market), which is grain bowls. My husband in particular is kind of a nut for them, and since getting him excited about cooking is a long-term goal, I am happy to oblige in their creation.

We got a brilliant cookbook called, brace yourselves, The Grain Bowl. I believe it is British, because there are all sorts of measurements/ingredients that seem a tad off to me, but for the most part you can get through the recipes with minimal substitution.

Black rice has long been a favorite grain of mine. Unlike its stick-like cousin wild rice, black rice is silky and smooth and in general a real fucking joy to eat. Since I will never be upset about anything made with ginger/scallions/ soy sauce, this bowl was very much pleasing to me.

Things that are currently NOT pleasing to me: people who accuse protestors of playing victim, the inability to acknowledge privilege and use it as a force for good, people asking me if I’m “pregnant yet,” and also kimchi farts. Til next time! xoxo

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Black Rice Chicken Congee
from The Grain Bowl by Nik Williamson

Serves 2
Prep: 5 min
Cooking: 50 min

2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh ginger
1 tsp olive oil, plus extra for frying
2 1/2 cups (600ml) chicken broth
1/2 cup (100g) black rice
2 large boneless chicken thighs
all-purpose flour, for dusting
2 tbsp salted peanuts or cashews, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 scallions, coarsely chopped
salt and black pepper
(i also added some spicy kimchi on top for good measure)

Put the garlic, ginger, and olive oil into a mortar and use a pestle (or small food processor) to grind them until you have a paste

Put 2 cups (475 ml) of the broth into a medium pan and bring to a simmer. Add the black rice and allow to simmer, covered over low heat for 30 minutes, or until almost all the broth has been absorbed. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside.

Sprinkle the chicken with a little flour. Heat a small skillet over high heat, add a little olive oil, then the chicken thighs. Do not move the thighs or shake the pan; this allows caramelization to take place.

Turn the thighs after a couple of minutes. Reduce the heat a little and cook for another few minutes. Once cooked all the way through, remove the chicken thighs from the heat and shred the meat on a clean cutting board.

Add the remaining 1/2 cup (120 ml) broth to the black rice along with the garlic-ginger paste, and stir over love heat for 10 minutes.

Divide the rice between 2 bowls and top with the chicken, nuts, soy sauce, and scallions. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve. (this is also where you’d add your kimchi)