supper club: november

This weekend, I hosted an edible ode to my favorite chef, Yotam Ottolenghi. I have long loved his London-based, Jerusalem-born, spice-driven cooking. In his world, it's all fresh ingredients and innovative flavor combinations. It's the most exciting food I know, and his recipes are among the only that I will (mostly) follow to a T. In specific, this meal was inspired by recipes from his latest cookbook, Jerusalem. As always, I tried to keep the menu seasonal and sustainable. With a number of vegetarians in the mix, the meal was conceived as a rustic, mostly plant-based "friendsgiving" - and I couldn't be more thankful for the opportunity to cook for such an amazing group of friends.

[slideshow]

Menu:

Whiskey Moscow Mules

Roasted almond stuffed dates

Homemade pickles - cauliflower, carrot, radish

Roasted cauliflower, hazelnut, celery, pomegranate and parsley salad*

Mejadra - Green lentils, spiced basmati rice, fried onions*

Hoisin, chili and garlic roasted brussel sprouts (recipe)

Roasted butternut and winter squash with cilantro garlic and spiced yogurt sauce (recipe)

White wine, cardamom and saffron poached pears*

Spice, chocolate and citrus zest cookies with lemon glaze*

*Recipe taken from Yotam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem

supper club: october

As Hurricane Sandy bears down on Brooklyn, and the threat of losing power increases, it seems an appropriate moment to think back on friendlier times in my Park Slope apartment. I moved into my new place just days before the September supper club, which a friend generously hosted at his Williamsburg home. October was thus the first time I cooked for a crowd in my new digs, making for an extra-special occasion.

The food was seasonal, spiced and veggie-centric. Guests were a delightful, motley crew - from a food editor to a jazz composer, a couple math geniuses and a few French friends-of-friends. Check out the pictures below, as well as the full menu.

[slideshow]

Menu

Whiskey and sparkling cider cocktail with lemon, rosemary and apple slices

Pear, walnut and homemade ricotta crostini

Celery, date, walnut and pecorino salad

Roasted tumeric-lemongrass chicken (a la Zac Pelaccio)

Mashed cauliflower with chives

Za'atar roasted carrots

Thyme and garlic roasted brussel sprouts with toasted almonds

Quick curried crumble with homemade yogurt

*Special thanks to Madeleine and Melissa, dear friends and photographers.

recipe: five minute spiced crumble

When people ask me how I make up recipes "on the spot", I have to admit that most of my inspiration stems from not wanting to waste food. In fact, over the past 5 years, the only ingredient I can recall throwing out was a single head of lettuce, before heading off on vacation. Great things can happen when you're trying to be a thrifty and sustainable cook. Just this week, I came home to find a browning pear and a couple of increasingly shriveled figs. But a few minutes on the stove and some Indian-inspired spices turned these sorry looking fruits into one of the most delicious desserts I've ever invented.

Five Minute Spiced Pear and Fig Crumble

Ingredients
  • 1 juicy pear
  • 2-3 figs
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tsp dried rosemary)
  • a pinch of sea salt (to taste)
  • 2 tbsp of your favorite granola
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin or flax seeds (optional)
  • greek yogurt (optional)
Instructions
  1. Just cover the bottom of a small pot with water; bring to a simmer.
  2. While water is heating, wash and chop pear into small chunks.
  3. Add pear to simmering water.
  4. Wash and chop figs; add to pears.
  5. Add curry, rosemary and salt.
  6. Stir occasionally until fruit is warm and softened (but not mushy).
  7. Remove from heat and scoop fruit into a bowl.
  8. Top with granola, seeds and a dollop of greek yogurt.

**For elegant plating, simply add a small sprig of fresh rosemary.