Pistachio Semolina Cake
Jessica Koslow of Sqirl, Silver Lake
Don’t let “smoky yogurt” make you think I’ve gone all cheffy on you. Yeah, in the restaurant the yogurt is actually smoked, but then I realized there’s some great-quality smoked sea salts out there that would also give you that effect (and you have to season the yogurt with salt anyway, so there you go). Liquid smoke also came up as a way to make this recipe more home cook–friendly, and though I dismissed it as a hack at first, I don’t believe the finest of palates could tell the difference between the real thing and the bottled thing. As for the crispy lentils, that idea came from Jonathon Sawyer, the amazing chef and wild man from Cleveland. He’s a total process guy, and every time I talk to him he’s got some technique he’s doing that’s really cool and delicious. He taught me that one way to get incredibly crispy lentils is to cook them until they’re tender, Cryovac them with a lot of olive oil and salt, and let them cure for a month before frying them. The final product is really good, but sorry, Johnny. Perry soaks them overnight and fries them in a skillet, and they’re just about as good. Perfect for all your crunchy-bit needs, or even on their own by the handful as a snack. So you got your yogurt, you got your roots, you got your chicories drizzled with dill vinaigrette, and then there’s the smoky yogurt and crispy lentils over the top. It’s a pretty solid deal.
Fermentation lies at the heart of Russian cuisine as one of the most ancient techniques of preparing food. As you will notice throughout this book, numerous recipes rely on sauerkrauts, kvass, or rassol (the fermentation liquid) for their distinct tangy flavor. This soup, which carries the name rassol in its very title, is the embodiment of such a tradition. While historically rassolnik is an old Russian dish, the go-to recipe in our family comes from Poland. Back in the 1970s, my mom took part in a school program that allowed Soviet kids to find pen pals in neighboring socialist countries. She hit the jackpot, since she was linked up with a boy in Poland (the most coveted country of all friendly socialist ones). After a few years of correspondence, my mom and her parents were invited—and most importantly permitted by the Soviet officials—to visit her pen pal. Along with a bag full of trendy garments, chewing gum, and fancy stationery, which made her the coolest teenager in school, she brought back this recipe for a good old Russian rassolnik, cooked by her Polish friend’s mom. The delicious soup always reminds me of the interwoven nature of the Soviet and Slavic histories and cuisines.
Sometimes I wish I could eat a roast bird and mashed potatoes and gravy for every meal. Most times, I just want somebody to pour gravy all over everything I eat. This chicken-stock gravy is pretty straightforward (just the pan drippings deglazed with chicken stock and thickened with cornstarch), but it’s spiked with a little soy sauce for extra umami and Dijon mustard to give it a little kick. And, oh yeah, alongside the gravy, there’s, like, a juicy roast chicken with an amazing bounty of citrus. There’s also a nontraditional but super delicious mashed sweet- and russet-potato dish with a ribbon of toasted nuts and seeds and fried shallots running through it. And there’s also a righteous green bean salad with a lemony yogurt sauce. And all of these are full of things that make you feel alive. Like gravy!
The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, more commonly known as the Shakers, is a Christian sect founded in England in 1770 by a woman named Ann Lee. Ann Lee, who was thought to embody the second coming of Christ, established four basic tenets: communal living, celibacy, regular confession of sins, and isolationism from the outside world. The Shaker story is an intriguing study of a social and religious experiment in utopian community in early American history. They were radical for their time in many ways: they practiced social, sexual, economic, and spiritual equality 75 years before emancipation and 150 years before suffrage. They strongly believed in gender equality, even though their responsibilities were separated by sex.
If you can’t find vegan puff pastry to use as a lid for this pot pie, use a piecrust mix to make pie dough instead. Feel free to play around with the filling and omit the seitan if you want—but whatever you use should add up to a similar amount. Try using a mixture of mushrooms and cooked root vegetables in winter, or in summer, add uncooked peas, asparagus, or broccoli to the sauce before the lid is added.
Sweet roasted pumpkin, filled with nutty, fragrant rice and sharp barberries. Serve it as a main course with a green salad.
I’m a little obsessed with bean gratins. These cozy make-ahead suppers (or side dishes) are satisfying and economical, and they can take as little as twenty minutes to get into the oven. This Mediterranean-inspired version relies on a handful of ordinary ingredients—cooked beans (from scratch or a can), sautéed onions, sausage, canned tomatoes, and parsley—but somehow it all bakes up into one of those dishes that I can’t get enough of. It seems to get better with every bite, especially if that bite includes some of the crunchy bread crumb and cheese topping.
I’m cheating here, because this isn’t entirely cooked in the oven, but the brief roasting is what helps Brussels sprouts achieve their optimum potential, instead of waterlogging them in a saucepan. I ate a similar dish at Rotisserie Georgette in New York—a restaurant that specializes in roast chicken—then came straight home and made this. It’s been a regular in my house ever since, and not just at Christmas.
The sauce here is rather like a vegetarian version of the Piedmontese anchovy sauce, bagna cauda (though it’s even more umami-packed). It’s not one of those vegetable recipes that feels like a side dish, where you keep searching for the focus, but has enough different flavors and textures from each vegetable to be layered and surprising.