Jump to:groceries Chunky Tuscan Bean & Kale Soup Butternut & Brussels in Agrodolce Slow Roasted Citrus Salmon w/ Vietnamese Cucumber Salad Lori’s Chocolate Midnight Cake
When asked about gifting cookbooks, without hesitation, I always suggest Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat. It came out a few years ago with raging success despite it being more of a reference than a cookbook. To be a better cook you need to understand some basics and she breaks those down in the most humble and understandable tone. There are recipes in the back of the book but her focus is on teaching people the four pillars of cooking in order to give confidence to the home cook; whether they are following recipes or shooting from the hip. She has a four part Netflix series inspired by the book which I’m pretty sure I’ve already gushed about here. I thought it’d be fun to do a menu from her book.
While you may not have a reason for chocolate cake this week, I wanted to leave this here just in case (isn’t there always a reason for chocolate cake?). I made the batter into cupcakes for Cleo’s birthday last weekend and they were a hit. It could be halved and baked into a short loaf for afternoon coffee too.
Anyway. I highly recommend the book but hope you enjoy this small sample. I made a few adjustments to each recipe per personal preference but all recipes are from Samin Nosrat.
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I am assuming you have sea salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil and a higher heat oil, such as avocado oil or coconut oil. Check your stock on these before you head to the market, and check off any other items you may already have. As you continue to use these recipes, you will see repetition of my favorite ingredients. For example, while real maple and pine nuts are pricey pantry staples, they won’t sit in the pantry, you’ll use them in upcoming weeks. Use bulk bins at your local health food store to buy in smaller quantities if you prefer.
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MEAT & DAIRY
recipe 01: Chunky Tuscan Bean & Kale Soup
This can be halved, and still make a pretty decent amount of soup. I prefer a large pot because soup saves so well and makes for an easy reheat. If you are gifting to new parents or neighbors, this soup packages up well alongside a fresh loaf of bread and a nub of parm on the side. The soup is simple and light, so your broth will make a difference. If you are not a strict vegetarian, a chicken stock will offer more flavor than the veg alternative, but either is fine. Enough parmesan cheese can help anything ;)
Leftovers may thicken, so add a splash of water to loosen the soup when you reheat it.
Tips of The Week
Prep Ahead: All the vegetables may be chopped in advance to make quick work of the sauté and simmering steps.
Make it Work Twice: The leftovers will keep for a week or it can be frozen if you are the sort that doesn’t like to eat the same meal multiple times in a week. Or gift some!
Kid Friendly: Instead of slivering the greens, I tried to chop them small so that all the vegetables were in small pieces. Soup is a tough sell to my kids, but I’ve learned if I pull the goodies away from the broth so it doesn’t look so “soupy”, it’s easier for them to eat.
Dairy Free: Skip the parmesan… or opt for a vegan version, like the one found here.
Carnivore Addition: There is a little bit of pancetta/bacon in the base, but some cooked sausage in with that step will also work great here. I would assume for 3 links pressed out of their casings and browned in the first step.
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 bay leaves
Sea salt and pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
4 garlic cloves
2 cups crushed or diced tomatoes in juices (I always like the fire roasted ones - roughly 1 can)
3 cups cooked beans (cannellini, corona, cranberry) (or roughly 2 13.5 oz. cans)
1 oz. fresh grated parmesan, rind reserved, more for garnish
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 bundle of kale, thinly sliced
1/2 a small head of cabbage, thinly sliced
2 ounces pancetta or bacon
Set a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat and add 1 Tbsp. of olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the pancetta or bacon, if using. Cook for a minute until it begins to brown. Add the onion, celery, carrots and bay leaves. Season generously with salt, pepper and a pinch of pepper flakes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and just starting to brown, about 15 minutes. Dig a little hole in the center of the vegetables, add a drizzle more oil and the garlic on top of that so it gives a little sizzle for about 30 seconds - do not burn! (sizzled garlic > steamed garlic which is what happens when you stir it in with all the other veg). Add the tomatoes and stir.
Let the tomatoes cook down about 8 minutes. Add the beans, half the grated parm and the parm rind (if you do not have one, not a huge deal), and enough stock to cover everything. Add two generous splashes of olive oil and bring the soup back up to a simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add the kale and cabbage, add a splash more stock or water to cover if needed, and let everything simmer until the greens are tender and the flavors have come together, about 20 minutes longer. Taste for seasoning. It probably needs a bit more salt. I like to stir in the juice of a lemon, but that is personal preference. Thin it with broth or water to your desired thickness, but it should be pretty stewy.
Discard the bay leaves and parm rind. Serve with a drizzle of good olive oil and a generous sprinkle of parmesan.
The leftovers will store for a week or can be frozen.
recipe 02: Butternut & Brussels in Agrodolce
So this can be a warm side, if tossed and served warm out of the oven. You can serve the vegetables with a cooked grain or, as pictured, a salad. “Agrodolce” means sweet and sour which you’re getting here by way of vinegar and a little sugar and some naturally sweet vegetables. It’s so simple and it just works. I know I’ve asked you guys to buy a number of nuts, so if you don’t have walnuts, a pecan, almond, pine nut, pepita would all be great as well. We’re just looking for a little crunch.
Tips of The Week
Prep Ahead: Chop the vegetables and macerate the red onion in the vinegar.
Make It Work Twice: Any leftovers would be great spooned onto a prepared flatbread with a bit of cheese and warmed for an easy pizza situation. If lightly dressed, it should be easy to pack for lunch.
Kid Friendly: Our kids are happy with squash and brussels, so I pull some out before I toss the rest with the vinegar mixture and greens.
Carnivore Addition: The buttermilk whole roasted chicken would be great alongside this dish!
1 small butternut squash, peeled and halved lengthwise, seeds discarded
Extra virgin olive oil
3/4 lb. brussels sprouts
1/2 a red onion, thinly sliced
6 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. red chili flakes
2 garlic cloves, grated
Handful of fresh mint leaves
4 oz. arugula (about 2 packed cups)
Preheat the oven to 400’.
Slice each half of the squash crosswise into 1/2” thick crescents and place them in a large bowl. Toss them with enough oil to coat, 2-3 Tbsp., and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Spread them on a rimmed baking sheet
Halve the brussels through the stems, toss them in the same large bowl, adding more olive oil if needed to coat. Season with salt and pepper, and place them on another rimmed baking sheet.
Roast the squash and sprouts under tender and caramelized, about 25-30 minutes. Check the vegetables and rotate the pans halfway through. The brussels will be done before the squash, so I pull those then crank the heat up a bit for the squash.
Meanwhile, toss the sliced onion in the vinegar. In another bowl, combine the sugar, chili flakes, garlic with another 1/4 cup olive oil.
When the roasted vegetables are just browning on the outside, remove them. Combine the vegetables in the big bowl. Combine the macerated onions and their vinegar with the olive oil mixture. Pour half of the marinade over the vegetables and toss to combine. Taste, add a pinch of salt if needed. If you’re going the salad route, add the arugula and mint here, and likely more marinade to dress it.
Serve warm or room temperature. Garnish with more mint and the toasted walnuts, if using.
recipe 03: Slow Roasted Citrus Salmon w/ Vietnamese Cucumber Salad
I love how light and fresh these cucumbers are. I toned down her fish sauce measurement because I only like it in super mild doses, personal preference. The meal is light, so add brown rice if you wish. This makes a decent amount of cucumbers, but they will keep for a day before they start to soften.
Tips of The Week
Prep Ahead: Slice the cucumbers and whisk the dressing together but do not dress it all until just before serving.
Make it Work Twice: Any leftover salmon may be used to stuff a quick taco or used as a protein add-on for a green salad.
Kid Friendly: without the seeds, the jalapeño in here is pretty mild. However, herbs offend my kids so I just give them sliced cucumbers with salmon and rice.
Vegetarian Swap: I love these cucumbers and think they’d be great with just some brown rice and simple tofu sautéed in sesame oil along with some avocado on top.
2 lemons, zested then sliced thin
1.5 lbs. salmon filets, skin and bones removed
Sea salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
for the cucumber slad
2 lbs. Persian cucumbers, about 8
1 jalapeño, seeds removed and minced
3 scallions, finely sliced
1 large garlic clove, grated
1 small bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 bundle of mint, leaves removed and chopped
1/2 cup toasted peanuts or almond, chopped
2 Tbsp. neutral oil, such as avocado
Juice of one large, juicy lime
4 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. fish sauce
brown rice, optional
Preheat the oven to 250’. Zest the lemons and set that aside in a small bowl. Line a baking sheet with parchment and then arrange a little bed for the salmon out of lemon slices. Make sure all the bones are out of the fish, using tweezers to pull out any stragglers. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper and lay it on the bed of lemons.
Mix a tablespoon or two of olive oil with the citrus zest and brush it onto the flesh of the fish.
Roast the fish for about 30 minutes +/- until the fish begins to flake at its thickest part. This will vary by thickness of the fish, so keep an eye. Because this method is so gentle on the proteins, the fish will appear translucent even when cooked.
While the fish bakes, make your cucumbers. Use a mandolin or sharp knife to slice the cucumbers into thin coins, discarding the ends. In a large bowl, combine the cucumbers, jalapeño, scallions, garlic, cilantro, mint and nuts. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, vinegar, fish sauce, sugar and a small pinch of salt. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette and toss to combine. Taste and adjust as needed, perhaps more lime juice. Serve immediately.
Serve the salmon and cucumbers together. Add rice if you wish. Garnish with more fresh herbs if desired.
recipe 04: Lori’s Chocolate Midnight Cake
Makes 20 cupcakes
This makes a basic chocolate cake, similar to what you’d find from a box (which is wonderful) and easily frosted for cupcakes or a layered cake. I added chocolate because I like my chocolate desserts extra chocolatey. I listed it as optional because they were excellent without as well. That said, the whole situation is easily dairy free if you use dark chocolate and the coconut milk in the ganache.
Samin says this make two 8” cakes and I got 20 cupcakes with the tins 2/3 full. The whole recipe can easily be halved and cooked in one 8x8 or 9x9 round or square pan.
You’re seeing them shown with pink frosting because it was a certain three year olds’ birthday and my daughter loves pink ;) but I would forever suggest the chocolate glaze below.
Tips of The Week
Prep Ahead: Prepare the dry and wet ingredients in advance, and stir them together before baking. The ganache or desired frosting can also be made in advance.
Dairy Free: Use the coconut milk option in the glaze and you’re good.
Gluten Free: Use a gluten free all-purpose flour such as King Arthur or Cup for Cup.
for the cupcakes
1/2 cup (2 ounces) Dutch-process cocoa powder (Samin suggests Valrohna)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. sea salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3.5 oz. dark chocolate bar, well chopped, optional
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup neutral tasting oil (I use avocado)
1 1/2 cups brewed coffee
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly whisked
for the Ganache
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup canned coconut milk or heavy cream
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
raspberry jam or cream cheese frosting
Preheat the oven to 350’. Set a rack in the upper third of the oven.
Grease two 8-inch cake pans, then line with parchment paper. Grease and sprinkle with flour, tapping out the excess (if you’re doing cupcakes, just use parchment liners). Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, salt, flour, and baking soda. Sift it if you wish.
In a medium bowl, stir the vanilla and oil together. Brew the coffee and add it to the oil. Gradually whisk in the eggs and stir until smooth. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. If you are going to add the chopped chocolate, stir it in here. The batter will be thin.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans (or fill the cupcake wells 2/3 full). Drop the pans on the counter a few times to release any tiny air bubbles that may have formed.
Bake in the upper third of the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the cakes spring back from the touch and just pull away from the edges of the pan. An inserted toothpick should come out clean.
Cool the cakes completely before unfolding them from the pan and peeling off the parchment.
While it cools, make the frosting or ganache.
For the ganache, in the microwave or in a glass bowl over a bowl of just simmering water, warm the chocolate chips and coconut milk or cream. Stir occasionally until even and smooth. You can load the center of the cake with cream cheese frosting or a thick layer of raspberry jam. Drizzle the ganache all over the top of the cake or cupcakes and enjoy that day!
Tightly wrapped, these cakes will keep for 4 days at room temperature.