Raita - Indian Cucumber Yogurt Sauce with Herbs

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Raita - cucumber and yogurt sauce with herbs by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Like it's Greek cousin, tzatziki, raita is a delicious, refreshing combination of yogurt, herbs, cucumber and either garlic or onion. Its creamy, herb-spiked coolness offers a welcome respite from spicy foods and adds welcome flavor to all manner of curries, roasted vegetables, mezze, grilled meats and fishes.

As with most things I like, raita is also very easy to make. Spoon out a cup or two of whole milk, plain yogurt (yes, FULL FAT). It can be Greek, it can be Bulgarian, it can be European, it can be good old 'Merican, just as long as it's plain and still has all the fat nature intended it to have. Trust me, I've mistakenly made raita with non-fat yogurt and it is but a poor shadow of the full-fat version.

Yogurt options at my local Adronicos by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2007

Chop up some good, crisp cucumbers. If they're organic and the skins look good, leave 'em on, otherwise, peel them first. You can slice them or dice them into whatever size pieces you like. I usually cut my cukes up into a fairly small dice for raita and tend to cut them into larger half-slices for tzatziki.

Slicing a fresh-picked cucumber by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Add either a little very finely chopped onion (red or yellow or white - whatever you like or have on hand) OR a small clove of finely chopped or pressed garlic. I tend to use onion in my tzatziki and garlic in my raita.

Cilantro by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2013

Then come the herbs. My usual suspects are cilantro, mint and parsley but don't let that hem you in. Feel free to try some fennel fronds chopped up or some fresh dill. If you're making tzatziki, fresh oregano and dill be a great combination.

Cucumber yogurt herb sauce aka tzatziki or raita by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Then stir it all together, add rather a lot of sea salt and black pepper and stir again. Taste it and adjust, as needed. If you use a Greek yogurt you will probably need to thin it out a little bit with some milk or water.

Then scoop some out to eat with your curried cauliflower, stewed lentils, roasted eggplant, grilled fish, or spiced lamb kebabs and tuck in.

Raita - cucumber and yogurt sauce with herbs by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

-- print recipe --Raita - Cucumber Herb Yogurt Sauce
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

* 2 cups plain, whole milk organic yogurt
* 1/2 organic cucumber, diced or sliced (your choice)
* 1 clove of garlic, minced or pressed
* A very generous handful of fresh herbs, chopped - cilantro, parsley and mint are my favorites
* Sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
* A little milk to thin with (optional)

Directions

Mix all the ingredients, stir well and taste. Adjust the seasoning as needed. Chill and serve. If you can make this several hours or even a day or two ahead of time, the flavors will be that much stronger.

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

Monday, February 16, 2015

Oatmeal chocolate chip pecan cookies by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

It is officially Cold out. To be precise, it was -10° when I started writing this at 7:28 AM and the high today was 11°. Balmy.

It's also day 3 of winter break. Hurray! There's nothing more peaceful and productive than 11 straight days indoors with two small children... Which reminds me of one of my favorite sayings:  INSANITY IS HEREDITARY - You Get It From Your Kids.

Thank God for cookies. I find that eating them regularly makes the cold and snow slightly more bearable, although it also makes my pants slightly less wearable... And baking them is a good way to pass the time, especially since my younger son loves to cook foods, both real and pretend.

My budding chef-let by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

As I've gotten more years of parenting under my belt, I've gotten savvier about letting the kids help - here are my two big advances:

1. Putting a big baking sheet down underneath the whole set up to contain the flour, sugar, etc. So much easier to clean than the flour and/or the counter.

2. Instead of having the kids fill the measuring cup or teaspoon and dump it directly into the bowl which usually leads to wildly incorrect amounts - a bit of a no-no in baking, I now set up a larger measuring cup for them to dump it into so that I can adjust as needed before it goes into the mixing bowl.

Ingredients for oatmeal pecan chocolate chip cookies by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

I wanted to use oats because they're so comforting and hearty. And chocolate is a must, in my opinion. I also like nuts in my cookies, especially when they're pecans.

Chopping pecans for the oatmeal chocolate chip pecan cookies by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

I turned to one of my favorite cookie sources - the Williams Sonoma Cookies cookbook. I also have their Soup and Breakfast books. I like them because all the recipes are good - sophisticated without being fancy or unnecessarily complicated, and the pictures always make me hungry.

Williams-Sonoma's Cookies cookbook by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

In the case of these cookies, there's not much to 'em. You just melt butter, beat eggs, chop nuts, measure flour, sugar, oats, choco chips and mix it all together. Then let it chill for a bit.

Batter for the oatmeal chocolate chip pecan cookies by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Scoop out a spoonful and drop it into the greased tray (that's why these are called "drop" cookies.) Then smush them down with a spoon or spatula or your hand before you put them into the oven.

Oatmeal chocolate chip pecan cookies by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Take them out, scoop them off, cool enough to avoid burning your tongue, and eat.

Oatmeal chocolate chip pecan cookies by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

-- print recipe --
Oatmeal Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Slightly adapted from the Oatmeal Cookies recipe in Williams Sonoma Cookies cookbook
Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

* 1/2 cup (1 stick) organic butter
* 3/4 cup brown sugar
* 1 large egg, lightly beaten (try to find pasture-raised from a farm near you)
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/4 tsp baking soda
* 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
* 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
* 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
* 1/2 cup chocolate chips
* 1/3 cup chopped pecans (sub in walnuts if you prefer them)

Directions

1. Melt the butter over low heat then remove from heat and beat in the sugar until blended. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until blended.

2. Stir the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture then stir in the oats, nuts and chocolate chips until combined. Cover and put in the fridge for an hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease two baking sheets (don't skimp!) Drop rounded spoonfuls of the cookie batter onto the cookie sheets roughly 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart. Flatten each ball of dough a bit with a metal spatula or your palm. Bake the cookies until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool a bit before eating.

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Potato Rösti

Friday, February 13, 2015

Potato rosti by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

In honor of Aunt Maggie, I've got another potato dish for you to savor. A perfectly browned, buttery potato pancake of epic proportions made with sweet, waxy Yukon Golds - my favorite variety of 'tater.

Rösti is a traditional Swiss breakfast food although I usually make it for either brunch or dinner. It's very, very simple and very, very good. Plus, there's that umlaut over the ö which gives it automatic European sophistication...

Yukon Gold potatoes by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Here's what you do. Take a big bunch of Yukon Golds - don't use a baking potato for this - you want the sweetness and waxy flesh of a Yukon Gold or a Yellow Finn for this preparation - and peel them. Then grate them on the large holes of a box grater.

Grating the Yukon Gold potatoes by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Then squeeze out as much of the water as you can. I let mine drain in a strainer while I grated and then squished it down with the heel of my hand a bunch of times. You can also wrap them in a clean dishtowel and squeeze the water out that way.

Draining the liquid out of the grated potatoes by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Turn them out into a bowl and add lots of salt and pepper. Potatoes always need more salt than I think they will so now I just go with a little more than feels right to me and am rewarded with perfect seasoning.

Grated Yukon Gold potatoes by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Next you melt a lot of clarified butter or ghee in a thick frying pan or iron skillet and pat the grated taters down into a big, thick, golden pancake.

Pressing the grated potatoes down in the pan by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Cook it over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, until the bottom gets nicely browned and the edges begin to crisp up.

Flipping the potato rosti by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Then comes the tricky bit - getting it out of the pan, flipping it over and getting it back in, preferably in one piece. I always find this part very stressful but the good news is that it will still taste just as good if you don't get it out in one perfect piece. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't...

Then you add more clarified butter or ghee to the pan and flop it back in so the other side is facing up now. Put some more butter around the edges and pop it into the oven to cook for another 15 or so minutes.

A note about the butter. Clarified butter is just butter that's been melted and had the milk solids removed - those solids are the part that burns so getting rid of them makes for better, more non-stick cooking. You can either make clarified butter - it's not hard - just follow my instructions - or you can go the even easier route and buy a jar of ghee - the Indian version of clarified butter. If you can find it and if you can afford it, get an organic ghee, unlike this one from Trader Joe's that I had in the house.

Ghee by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Once it's all browned and crisp on the edges, turn the heat off, turn your massive potato pancake out onto a plate and DIG IN. I usually put out sour cream and homemade applesauce, just like I would with latkes though it's great just as it is, too. And if you eat fish, rosti is wonderful with poached or grilled salmon or arctic char and a green salad with fresh herbs and cucumber.

Potato rosti by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

I hope you like it even half as much as I do.

-- print recipe --Potato Rösti
Serves 6

Ingredients

* 10 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
* Coarse salt (at least a few tsps) and freshly ground black pepper
* 1/2 cup clarified butter or ghee

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Grate the potatoes on the large holes of a box grater and then squeeze the water out of them by either placing in a strainer and pushing down repeatedly or wrapping in a clean dishtowel and squeezing out the liquid. Then place the potatoes in a large bowl and toss with lots of salt and pepper.

2. Heat half of the clarified butter or ghee in a 9- or 10-inch cast iron skillet (don't use anything with plastic since you will be finishing it in the oven) over medium heat and then spread the potatoes evenly in the pan, pressing down to form a flattened cake. Cook until the bottom and sides are golden brown, about 18 minutes.

3. Take the pan off the heat and gently loosen around the sides with a silicon spatula (I sometimes use a metal frosting knife since it's kind of thin and flexible). Place a large plate over the pan and flip it over. Hope and pray that the thing comes out in one piece. If not, scrape the bits that didn't come out off and patch them back onto the top of it. If there are still bits stuck to the pan, remove them - you don't want anything left in there for the pancake to stick to when you put it back in.

4. Put the skillet back on the heat, add half of the remaining butter and let it heat up before gently flipping/sliding the rosti back into the pan with the unbrowned side down. Spread the rest of the butter around the edges and cook for another 10 minutes or so, giving the pan a shake a few times to loosen the cake. Then transfer to the oven to finish cooking through for another 10 minutes or so. Remove from the oven, cut into wedges and serve hot.

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What To Say When Someone Dies

Monday, February 9, 2015

I just snuck downstairs in the halflight to try to steal a little time before the boys wake up. It's snowing out there and I don't need to look at my emails or listen to the radio to know that school is closed today. Again.

I'm sitting on the floor in front of the woodstove I just fed, listening to the wood catch and pop and the metal creak as it heats up while I try to type with a very affectionate, won't-take-no-for-an-answer cat in my lap.

I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about my aunt Maggie after reading the lovely things people have been writing about her. And I woke up this morning in the hushed white thinking about my dad. His name was Joel and he died unexpectedly about four and a half years ago, shortly after we'd moved back across the country to be near him and my mom and my husband's parents.

Eve and Joel

He was a good man. A Jewish boy from Brooklyn who chose to raise his family in the country and work with his hands. He could build or fix anything. He was a gifted designer and left behind a number of beautiful homes he'd dreamed up and built here in NY's Hudson Valley. He loved the woods and hunting deer - it was like a spiritual practice for him. He loved the sun and the sand, especially down in the Yucatan Peninsula. He loved my mom, my brother and me.


After he died, I spent a long time in a state of shock and sadness, trying to come to grips with the fact that he was gone and wondering where he was. And wishing I could have said goodbye and given him a hug.

It was the first time I'd lost someone I was really close to and a kind of crash course in grief. Prior to his death, I'd felt nearly paralyzed by uncertainty and awkwardness in the face of someone grieving. What should I say? I had no idea what they wanted or needed. And death is scary and confusing, you know?

What I learned is this - the most important thing is just to say something. Even if it's something unoriginal like, "I'm so sorry" or "I'm thinking of you and your family." As long as you mean it, the old standbys are good - that's why they're the old standbys.

What you should NOT do is pretend nothing has happened. I am still incredulous that a friend of ours came to visit not long after my dad died, when I had a constant headache and my eyes were always swollen from crying and he did not say ANYTHING to me about the fact that I'd lost my dad. It made me feel so much worse. And angry.

The best thing people did after my dad died was to share stories and snippets from his life with me - it was like getting back little pieces of him, something I was desperate for. In fact, I feel like I probably know him better now than I did while he was alive. And I loved hearing from other people how he felt about me, of course.

So, in short, say something. If you didn't know the person, speak from the heart to let the person know you care about them, that you acknowledge their loss, that it matters - that's all they really need.

And if you knew the person who's died, share whatever stories you have of their lives or talk about the things you loved and appreciated about them. If you're too uncomfortable to do it in person, send an email or a card - just as good and maybe better, depending on the person.

Thank you to all of you who've sent your thoughts and love, both when my dad died and more recently, about Maggie. It helps.

More musings that are not about food:
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Creamy Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup

Monday, February 2, 2015

Creamy Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Greetings from the House of Illness. With two young kids at two different schools, we're exposed, and I mean exposed - the older child has a penchant for mischievous licking and the younger one is still too young to wipe his nose - to a rotating roster of microbes. Cold, cough, stomach flu, regular flu - you name it, we've had it. But no measles, thankfully.

I've been making rather a lot of soup - chicken with matzoh balls and "fat carrots" like my grandma Mary used to make, good, old potato leek, curried lentil and sweet potato, and more. Then our little guy got the croup and my husband got the flu and I caught a cold. Time to bring out the big guns...GARLIC.

Garlic From Our Garden Drying On Outdoor Table by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2008

A lot of people believe that garlic has healing properties and can help prevent illness. Perhaps garlic has medicinal properties or perhaps it just works by keeping other people too far away to pass on any germs - who knows. But I love the taste and welcome any excuse to cook with it. Luckily, my mom gifted us six heads of garlic a few days ago. I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with them but I decided to wrap them all in foil and roast them silly.

Roasted garlic by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

The smell that filled the house while they were roasting was INTENSE in a very good way. Once they'd cooled down, I peeled the cloves and squeezed the soft, fragrant stuff into a glass jar, mixed it with some olive oil and salt and stuck it in the fridge.

Roasted Garlic for the Creamy Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

I'd been storing the potatoes we grew this summer in paper bags on a bottom shelf in our pantry. It's pretty cold and dark in there and they'd been keeping very well - no "rotten apples" or eyes. But then we went on vacation for a week and the kickspace heater in the pantry must've come on because we were not here to run the woodstove and it was coooold. By the time we got back, every single one of those potatoes had sprouted. In fact, it looked like some sort of alien invasion in those bags with long fuzzy arms snaking out of their heads and green buds beginning to sprout off the arms. So sad!

Yukon Gold Potatoes for the Creamy Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

I sorted them out and saved all the ones that were still firm enough to use. I peeled up this mess o' spuds using my favorite peeler, a simple Zyliss one.

Peeling Potatoes for the Creamy Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Then I cubed them all and chopped up a huge onion which I sauteed in olive oil in a soup pot.

Sauteeing Onions for the Creamy Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Once the onion had softened, I added the potatoes, tossed in a handful of chopped rosemary and thyme from our plants, poured in a big bunch of my homemade vegetable stock and let it simmer for half an hour or so.

Simmering the Potatoes and Onion in Stock for the Creamy Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Then I added a couple spoonfuls of the gloriously roasted garlic, seasoned with salt and pepper and poured in some heavy cream.

Adding the garlic to the Creamy Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

I pureed it right in the pot with the magic wand blender until it was smooth.

Creamy Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Then I served it up to my husband who took a break from his coughing to scarf it down, making appropriately appreciative noises. It is rich, sweet and nutty with the most sublime, mellow garlicky flavor. I went back for seconds. And licked the serving spoon clean before putting it in the dishwasher.

Creamy Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

-- print recipe --
Creamy Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

* 1 tablespoon organic olive oil
* 1 tablespoon organic butter or bacon drippings
* 1 large organic onion, diced
* 3 pounds organic potatoes, peeled and chopped
* 5 cups stock - you can use vegetable or chicken
* 3 heads of roasted garlic, cloves removed from their papery wrappers - directions here
* 1 cup organic heavy cream
* Handful of chopped fresh herbs, I used rosemary and thyme but dill, parsley, and cilantro would be good, too
* Sea salt to taste
* Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

1. Heat the oil and butter (or bacon fat) in a large soup or stock pot over a medium flame and saute the onion, stirring frequently for 3-4 minutes, until softened and fragrant. Add the cubed potatoes and the chopped herbs and saute for another 3-4 minutes.

2. Add the stock and bring to a gentle simmer then cook, covered until the potatoes are cooked through - 25-30 minutes. Add the roasted garlic, cream, salt and pepper and puree until smooth. I love using my immersion blender for this task since it lets me do it right in the pot and is so easy to clean but you can also do this in batches in either a blender or food processor if you don't have an immersion blender.

3. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking before serving warm with crispy bread and a green salad.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Raita - Indian Cucumber Yogurt Sauce with Herbs

Raita - cucumber and yogurt sauce with herbs by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Like it's Greek cousin, tzatziki, raita is a delicious, refreshing combination of yogurt, herbs, cucumber and either garlic or onion. Its creamy, herb-spiked coolness offers a welcome respite from spicy foods and adds welcome flavor to all manner of curries, roasted vegetables, mezze, grilled meats and fishes.

As with most things I like, raita is also very easy to make. Spoon out a cup or two of whole milk, plain yogurt (yes, FULL FAT). It can be Greek, it can be Bulgarian, it can be European, it can be good old 'Merican, just as long as it's plain and still has all the fat nature intended it to have. Trust me, I've mistakenly made raita with non-fat yogurt and it is but a poor shadow of the full-fat version.

Yogurt options at my local Adronicos by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2007

Chop up some good, crisp cucumbers. If they're organic and the skins look good, leave 'em on, otherwise, peel them first. You can slice them or dice them into whatever size pieces you like. I usually cut my cukes up into a fairly small dice for raita and tend to cut them into larger half-slices for tzatziki.

Slicing a fresh-picked cucumber by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Add either a little very finely chopped onion (red or yellow or white - whatever you like or have on hand) OR a small clove of finely chopped or pressed garlic. I tend to use onion in my tzatziki and garlic in my raita.

Cilantro by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2013

Then come the herbs. My usual suspects are cilantro, mint and parsley but don't let that hem you in. Feel free to try some fennel fronds chopped up or some fresh dill. If you're making tzatziki, fresh oregano and dill be a great combination.

Cucumber yogurt herb sauce aka tzatziki or raita by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Then stir it all together, add rather a lot of sea salt and black pepper and stir again. Taste it and adjust, as needed. If you use a Greek yogurt you will probably need to thin it out a little bit with some milk or water.

Then scoop some out to eat with your curried cauliflower, stewed lentils, roasted eggplant, grilled fish, or spiced lamb kebabs and tuck in.

Raita - cucumber and yogurt sauce with herbs by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

-- print recipe --Raita - Cucumber Herb Yogurt Sauce
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

* 2 cups plain, whole milk organic yogurt
* 1/2 organic cucumber, diced or sliced (your choice)
* 1 clove of garlic, minced or pressed
* A very generous handful of fresh herbs, chopped - cilantro, parsley and mint are my favorites
* Sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
* A little milk to thin with (optional)

Directions

Mix all the ingredients, stir well and taste. Adjust the seasoning as needed. Chill and serve. If you can make this several hours or even a day or two ahead of time, the flavors will be that much stronger.

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

Oatmeal chocolate chip pecan cookies by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

It is officially Cold out. To be precise, it was -10° when I started writing this at 7:28 AM and the high today was 11°. Balmy.

It's also day 3 of winter break. Hurray! There's nothing more peaceful and productive than 11 straight days indoors with two small children... Which reminds me of one of my favorite sayings:  INSANITY IS HEREDITARY - You Get It From Your Kids.

Thank God for cookies. I find that eating them regularly makes the cold and snow slightly more bearable, although it also makes my pants slightly less wearable... And baking them is a good way to pass the time, especially since my younger son loves to cook foods, both real and pretend.

My budding chef-let by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

As I've gotten more years of parenting under my belt, I've gotten savvier about letting the kids help - here are my two big advances:

1. Putting a big baking sheet down underneath the whole set up to contain the flour, sugar, etc. So much easier to clean than the flour and/or the counter.

2. Instead of having the kids fill the measuring cup or teaspoon and dump it directly into the bowl which usually leads to wildly incorrect amounts - a bit of a no-no in baking, I now set up a larger measuring cup for them to dump it into so that I can adjust as needed before it goes into the mixing bowl.

Ingredients for oatmeal pecan chocolate chip cookies by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

I wanted to use oats because they're so comforting and hearty. And chocolate is a must, in my opinion. I also like nuts in my cookies, especially when they're pecans.

Chopping pecans for the oatmeal chocolate chip pecan cookies by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

I turned to one of my favorite cookie sources - the Williams Sonoma Cookies cookbook. I also have their Soup and Breakfast books. I like them because all the recipes are good - sophisticated without being fancy or unnecessarily complicated, and the pictures always make me hungry.

Williams-Sonoma's Cookies cookbook by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

In the case of these cookies, there's not much to 'em. You just melt butter, beat eggs, chop nuts, measure flour, sugar, oats, choco chips and mix it all together. Then let it chill for a bit.

Batter for the oatmeal chocolate chip pecan cookies by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Scoop out a spoonful and drop it into the greased tray (that's why these are called "drop" cookies.) Then smush them down with a spoon or spatula or your hand before you put them into the oven.

Oatmeal chocolate chip pecan cookies by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Take them out, scoop them off, cool enough to avoid burning your tongue, and eat.

Oatmeal chocolate chip pecan cookies by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

-- print recipe --
Oatmeal Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Slightly adapted from the Oatmeal Cookies recipe in Williams Sonoma Cookies cookbook
Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

* 1/2 cup (1 stick) organic butter
* 3/4 cup brown sugar
* 1 large egg, lightly beaten (try to find pasture-raised from a farm near you)
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/4 tsp baking soda
* 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
* 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
* 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
* 1/2 cup chocolate chips
* 1/3 cup chopped pecans (sub in walnuts if you prefer them)

Directions

1. Melt the butter over low heat then remove from heat and beat in the sugar until blended. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until blended.

2. Stir the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture then stir in the oats, nuts and chocolate chips until combined. Cover and put in the fridge for an hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease two baking sheets (don't skimp!) Drop rounded spoonfuls of the cookie batter onto the cookie sheets roughly 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart. Flatten each ball of dough a bit with a metal spatula or your palm. Bake the cookies until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool a bit before eating.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Potato Rösti

Potato rosti by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

In honor of Aunt Maggie, I've got another potato dish for you to savor. A perfectly browned, buttery potato pancake of epic proportions made with sweet, waxy Yukon Golds - my favorite variety of 'tater.

Rösti is a traditional Swiss breakfast food although I usually make it for either brunch or dinner. It's very, very simple and very, very good. Plus, there's that umlaut over the ö which gives it automatic European sophistication...

Yukon Gold potatoes by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Here's what you do. Take a big bunch of Yukon Golds - don't use a baking potato for this - you want the sweetness and waxy flesh of a Yukon Gold or a Yellow Finn for this preparation - and peel them. Then grate them on the large holes of a box grater.

Grating the Yukon Gold potatoes by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Then squeeze out as much of the water as you can. I let mine drain in a strainer while I grated and then squished it down with the heel of my hand a bunch of times. You can also wrap them in a clean dishtowel and squeeze the water out that way.

Draining the liquid out of the grated potatoes by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Turn them out into a bowl and add lots of salt and pepper. Potatoes always need more salt than I think they will so now I just go with a little more than feels right to me and am rewarded with perfect seasoning.

Grated Yukon Gold potatoes by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Next you melt a lot of clarified butter or ghee in a thick frying pan or iron skillet and pat the grated taters down into a big, thick, golden pancake.

Pressing the grated potatoes down in the pan by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Cook it over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, until the bottom gets nicely browned and the edges begin to crisp up.

Flipping the potato rosti by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Then comes the tricky bit - getting it out of the pan, flipping it over and getting it back in, preferably in one piece. I always find this part very stressful but the good news is that it will still taste just as good if you don't get it out in one perfect piece. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't...

Then you add more clarified butter or ghee to the pan and flop it back in so the other side is facing up now. Put some more butter around the edges and pop it into the oven to cook for another 15 or so minutes.

A note about the butter. Clarified butter is just butter that's been melted and had the milk solids removed - those solids are the part that burns so getting rid of them makes for better, more non-stick cooking. You can either make clarified butter - it's not hard - just follow my instructions - or you can go the even easier route and buy a jar of ghee - the Indian version of clarified butter. If you can find it and if you can afford it, get an organic ghee, unlike this one from Trader Joe's that I had in the house.

Ghee by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Once it's all browned and crisp on the edges, turn the heat off, turn your massive potato pancake out onto a plate and DIG IN. I usually put out sour cream and homemade applesauce, just like I would with latkes though it's great just as it is, too. And if you eat fish, rosti is wonderful with poached or grilled salmon or arctic char and a green salad with fresh herbs and cucumber.

Potato rosti by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

I hope you like it even half as much as I do.

-- print recipe --Potato Rösti
Serves 6

Ingredients

* 10 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
* Coarse salt (at least a few tsps) and freshly ground black pepper
* 1/2 cup clarified butter or ghee

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Grate the potatoes on the large holes of a box grater and then squeeze the water out of them by either placing in a strainer and pushing down repeatedly or wrapping in a clean dishtowel and squeezing out the liquid. Then place the potatoes in a large bowl and toss with lots of salt and pepper.

2. Heat half of the clarified butter or ghee in a 9- or 10-inch cast iron skillet (don't use anything with plastic since you will be finishing it in the oven) over medium heat and then spread the potatoes evenly in the pan, pressing down to form a flattened cake. Cook until the bottom and sides are golden brown, about 18 minutes.

3. Take the pan off the heat and gently loosen around the sides with a silicon spatula (I sometimes use a metal frosting knife since it's kind of thin and flexible). Place a large plate over the pan and flip it over. Hope and pray that the thing comes out in one piece. If not, scrape the bits that didn't come out off and patch them back onto the top of it. If there are still bits stuck to the pan, remove them - you don't want anything left in there for the pancake to stick to when you put it back in.

4. Put the skillet back on the heat, add half of the remaining butter and let it heat up before gently flipping/sliding the rosti back into the pan with the unbrowned side down. Spread the rest of the butter around the edges and cook for another 10 minutes or so, giving the pan a shake a few times to loosen the cake. Then transfer to the oven to finish cooking through for another 10 minutes or so. Remove from the oven, cut into wedges and serve hot.

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Monday, February 9, 2015

What To Say When Someone Dies

I just snuck downstairs in the halflight to try to steal a little time before the boys wake up. It's snowing out there and I don't need to look at my emails or listen to the radio to know that school is closed today. Again.

I'm sitting on the floor in front of the woodstove I just fed, listening to the wood catch and pop and the metal creak as it heats up while I try to type with a very affectionate, won't-take-no-for-an-answer cat in my lap.

I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about my aunt Maggie after reading the lovely things people have been writing about her. And I woke up this morning in the hushed white thinking about my dad. His name was Joel and he died unexpectedly about four and a half years ago, shortly after we'd moved back across the country to be near him and my mom and my husband's parents.

Eve and Joel

He was a good man. A Jewish boy from Brooklyn who chose to raise his family in the country and work with his hands. He could build or fix anything. He was a gifted designer and left behind a number of beautiful homes he'd dreamed up and built here in NY's Hudson Valley. He loved the woods and hunting deer - it was like a spiritual practice for him. He loved the sun and the sand, especially down in the Yucatan Peninsula. He loved my mom, my brother and me.


After he died, I spent a long time in a state of shock and sadness, trying to come to grips with the fact that he was gone and wondering where he was. And wishing I could have said goodbye and given him a hug.

It was the first time I'd lost someone I was really close to and a kind of crash course in grief. Prior to his death, I'd felt nearly paralyzed by uncertainty and awkwardness in the face of someone grieving. What should I say? I had no idea what they wanted or needed. And death is scary and confusing, you know?

What I learned is this - the most important thing is just to say something. Even if it's something unoriginal like, "I'm so sorry" or "I'm thinking of you and your family." As long as you mean it, the old standbys are good - that's why they're the old standbys.

What you should NOT do is pretend nothing has happened. I am still incredulous that a friend of ours came to visit not long after my dad died, when I had a constant headache and my eyes were always swollen from crying and he did not say ANYTHING to me about the fact that I'd lost my dad. It made me feel so much worse. And angry.

The best thing people did after my dad died was to share stories and snippets from his life with me - it was like getting back little pieces of him, something I was desperate for. In fact, I feel like I probably know him better now than I did while he was alive. And I loved hearing from other people how he felt about me, of course.

So, in short, say something. If you didn't know the person, speak from the heart to let the person know you care about them, that you acknowledge their loss, that it matters - that's all they really need.

And if you knew the person who's died, share whatever stories you have of their lives or talk about the things you loved and appreciated about them. If you're too uncomfortable to do it in person, send an email or a card - just as good and maybe better, depending on the person.

Thank you to all of you who've sent your thoughts and love, both when my dad died and more recently, about Maggie. It helps.

More musings that are not about food:
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Monday, February 2, 2015

Creamy Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup

Creamy Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Greetings from the House of Illness. With two young kids at two different schools, we're exposed, and I mean exposed - the older child has a penchant for mischievous licking and the younger one is still too young to wipe his nose - to a rotating roster of microbes. Cold, cough, stomach flu, regular flu - you name it, we've had it. But no measles, thankfully.

I've been making rather a lot of soup - chicken with matzoh balls and "fat carrots" like my grandma Mary used to make, good, old potato leek, curried lentil and sweet potato, and more. Then our little guy got the croup and my husband got the flu and I caught a cold. Time to bring out the big guns...GARLIC.

Garlic From Our Garden Drying On Outdoor Table by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2008

A lot of people believe that garlic has healing properties and can help prevent illness. Perhaps garlic has medicinal properties or perhaps it just works by keeping other people too far away to pass on any germs - who knows. But I love the taste and welcome any excuse to cook with it. Luckily, my mom gifted us six heads of garlic a few days ago. I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with them but I decided to wrap them all in foil and roast them silly.

Roasted garlic by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

The smell that filled the house while they were roasting was INTENSE in a very good way. Once they'd cooled down, I peeled the cloves and squeezed the soft, fragrant stuff into a glass jar, mixed it with some olive oil and salt and stuck it in the fridge.

Roasted Garlic for the Creamy Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

I'd been storing the potatoes we grew this summer in paper bags on a bottom shelf in our pantry. It's pretty cold and dark in there and they'd been keeping very well - no "rotten apples" or eyes. But then we went on vacation for a week and the kickspace heater in the pantry must've come on because we were not here to run the woodstove and it was coooold. By the time we got back, every single one of those potatoes had sprouted. In fact, it looked like some sort of alien invasion in those bags with long fuzzy arms snaking out of their heads and green buds beginning to sprout off the arms. So sad!

Yukon Gold Potatoes for the Creamy Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

I sorted them out and saved all the ones that were still firm enough to use. I peeled up this mess o' spuds using my favorite peeler, a simple Zyliss one.

Peeling Potatoes for the Creamy Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Then I cubed them all and chopped up a huge onion which I sauteed in olive oil in a soup pot.

Sauteeing Onions for the Creamy Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Once the onion had softened, I added the potatoes, tossed in a handful of chopped rosemary and thyme from our plants, poured in a big bunch of my homemade vegetable stock and let it simmer for half an hour or so.

Simmering the Potatoes and Onion in Stock for the Creamy Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Then I added a couple spoonfuls of the gloriously roasted garlic, seasoned with salt and pepper and poured in some heavy cream.

Adding the garlic to the Creamy Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

I pureed it right in the pot with the magic wand blender until it was smooth.

Creamy Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

Then I served it up to my husband who took a break from his coughing to scarf it down, making appropriately appreciative noises. It is rich, sweet and nutty with the most sublime, mellow garlicky flavor. I went back for seconds. And licked the serving spoon clean before putting it in the dishwasher.

Creamy Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

-- print recipe --
Creamy Roasted Garlic & Potato Soup
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

* 1 tablespoon organic olive oil
* 1 tablespoon organic butter or bacon drippings
* 1 large organic onion, diced
* 3 pounds organic potatoes, peeled and chopped
* 5 cups stock - you can use vegetable or chicken
* 3 heads of roasted garlic, cloves removed from their papery wrappers - directions here
* 1 cup organic heavy cream
* Handful of chopped fresh herbs, I used rosemary and thyme but dill, parsley, and cilantro would be good, too
* Sea salt to taste
* Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

1. Heat the oil and butter (or bacon fat) in a large soup or stock pot over a medium flame and saute the onion, stirring frequently for 3-4 minutes, until softened and fragrant. Add the cubed potatoes and the chopped herbs and saute for another 3-4 minutes.

2. Add the stock and bring to a gentle simmer then cook, covered until the potatoes are cooked through - 25-30 minutes. Add the roasted garlic, cream, salt and pepper and puree until smooth. I love using my immersion blender for this task since it lets me do it right in the pot and is so easy to clean but you can also do this in batches in either a blender or food processor if you don't have an immersion blender.

3. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking before serving warm with crispy bread and a green salad.

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