With the weather so so cold, lately I’ve been all about the spice, from the hot honey I discovered at the delicious Paulie Gee’s pizza shop in Greenpoint to the Chinese chili bean paste that I’ve been adding to everything. (I also recently tried out Brodo, New York’s broth stand, and loved the spicy kick of the gingered grass-fed beef broth with calabrian chili oil.) I picked up a jar of locally produced-kimchi the other day and decided to add it into a pot of stew along with some tofu and a big spoonful of that Chinese chili paste. The fiery flavor has since become my go-to easy dinner prep, as the big batch easily lasts the week. It’s such a simple combination of vegetables, broth, kimchi, and tofu, but it’s so filling and so spicy!
For this batch I used sweet potato, mushroom, and napa cabbage, but it’s really an anything goes type of recipe, so throw in whatever vegetables you have. You can use homemade kimchi if you have it, but a good quality prepared jar works fine. And for the heat, you can also use the Korean hot pepper paste Gochujang. (I’m not the only one who loves making this recipe; I noticed the week after I first made it that Bon Appetit shared a recipe for their version. Smart minds!)
I’ve been listening to podcasts a lot lately, and it’s not surprising that the series from Cherry Bombe magazine—interviews with women in the food industry—is quite inspirational. I loved hearing Ruth Reichl talk about what’s in her fridge; Ina Garten share some great entertaining stories; and Erin McKenna recount the beginnings of her gluten-free bakery Babycakes. When Christine Muhlke mentioned she makes her own yogurt, I thought, “Wow, I want to be the type of gal that makes my own yogurt.” Sure, it’s a relatively simple task, but I just like the idea of taking the time to make something delicious instead of buying it. I was eating a lot of yogurt last year (with this delicious granola) and I’m surprised I didn’t think of it sooner. Now that I have, I’ve decided it’s going to be one of those things that I just do.
As I mentioned, the process is super simple: heat up some milk, add a little yogurt, cool, and enjoy. Although you can purchase yogurt cultures to start the yogurt, the process can also be done with store-bought yogurt. Just make sure you pick-up a yogurt that says “live active cultures” in the ingredients and lists cultures such as L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, and L. Casei. Once you have a batch made, you can simple save ½ cup for the next time. Whether you make it once, or you have homemade yogurt become part of your 2015 routines like me, enjoy!
Life in Europe in 2014 was all about traveling—from Wernigerode, Cologne, Hamburg, Dresden, and Meissen in Germany, to Austria, Amsterdam, Paris, Ireland, Montenegro, Croatia, and Norway elsewhere, I can’t believe how much we packed in! I feel so lucky and blessed for each experience, all the wonderful friends that came into my life, and the many happy and unforgettable memories. But as much as I loved zipping around, now that I’ve found myself back in New York, I’m looking forward to a year of settling in, developing the kinds of habits it’s hard to keep up with when you’re constantly jet setting.
With the start of the new year, I’m excited to reestablish some much loved kitchen routines—meal planning, preserving, and big-batch cooking homemade favorites, like this delicious granola. Although it’s a new recipe, I’m already certain it will be a go-to snack: I love the crunch of toasted buckwheat, and the combination of cinnamon, orange zest, coconut, and chocolate is always a winner. I like my granola not-too-sweet, but if you’d prefer it on the sweeter side (or want it to clump into clusters), increase the honey to ½ cup and add a ¼ cup brown sugar. I’ve used almonds because I had them, but hazelnuts, walnuts, or pecans would all work as well.
This year I also want to finally start making my own yogurt (more on that next week), kombucha, and maybe even brew some beer. And I also want to push myself out of my culinary comforts and try out some totally new and more challenging recipes. So while I certainly plan to travel this year (I already have a few trips in the works!), I’m excited to feel deliciously settled in the kitchen in 2015. Happy new year and cheers to all your 2015 resolutions!