honey baked eggplant

honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking
honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking

In case you've been wondering where I have been for the past few months ..... I've been cooking LOTS, in this space in these photos here. Our new studio with my friend and now partner, Hetty, has been bustling with activity ever since we finished our kitchen renovation back in August and opened our doors. We've hosted dinners, lunches, photography workshops, cooking classes ... we've even had people come and teach their own trades in our space, like macrame and bagel-making.

Last saturday we hosted a workshop that was the first of it's kind for us, and it was all about publishing food stories. We spent the day discussing different perspectives on publishing from conception to blogs to books and magazines, from a variety of experts and cookbook authors. The conversation was informative, candid, but most importantly, inspiring and fun. It was our hope that everyone who was at the studio that day left feeling their creative energy completely recharged. I know that we certainly did.  

No matter what the event at the studio, there will always be some sort of food component.  Last Saturday our lunch menu for the publishing workshop consisted of cauliflower with romesco, roasted brussels sprouts with a ginger scallion sauce, mushroom toasts, and this honey baked eggplant dish (which everyone kept calling eggplant lasagna, which is probably because it was reminiscent of lasagna/eggplant parmesan with layers of thinly sliced eggplant, red sauce, and cheese). We also made a vegan / dairy-free version by using a dairy-free cashew yogurt in lieu of the cheese (in the same amounts, with some garlic and seasoning mixed in) and that version was a big hit as well. So many people asked for the recipes so we decided it would be a great first recipe for our brand new studio blog, where we hope to share many of the recipes we create in the studio for events or just for ourselves. So head over to THE BLOG for this delicious recipe, and be sure to subscribe to our neighborhood studio newsletter so you will never miss a recipe.

Oh, AND, I will be posting new recipes here again too, now that we are in our groove over at the studio, and I am so excited because I have SO many fun, new recipes waiting for you. 

honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking
honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking
honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking
honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking
honey-eggplant_NS-07.jpg
honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking
honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking
honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking

peach + blueberry + polenta crisp

peach + blueberry + polenta crisp | what's cooking good looking
peach + blueberry + polenta crisp | what's cooking good looking

As someone who anticipates summer more than any other season, it's hard towards the end of the season to not sit back and think about how good the summer has been compared to other summers. How many warm perfect days vs. rainy days ... how many beach bbqs did we do or just overall days spent on the beach and swimming in the ocean. Did I get in my fair share of epic outdoor dinner parties. This summer had mostly ups and just a few downs. We had a lot of rainy saturdays, and for some reason these last few weeks of august have felt more like the last few of september, needing a sweater in the early morning and late evening. But weather aside, I have to say, everything else about this summer has been pretty great. I relished in my vacation time, just as much as I did getting back to work and getting our new brooklyn studio ready. We opened officially last weekend, and that definitely was a big highlight of my summer.

Once I have had a chance to anaylze my summer, I pretty much always come to the same conclusion. Summer is the best, and even the least best summer is still pretty darn amazing. 

This summer I did a lot of cooking. Even more than I usually do, and I consider that a big summertime win. With all of the amazing fruits and veggies at my finger tips, I have a hard time passing up any opportunity to cook with the summertime gems .... whether it's just for myself, or for a big group of people. I made a point to always make myself breakfast and lunch at home,  and I tried to keep eating out for more special or social occasions, or for when I was craving the crab pasta or wood grilled whole fish at one of my two favorite restaurants in town. Usually when I am doing a lot of cooking, I like to get creative to keep from getting bored, but this summer I was drawn to the most simple preparations .... a quick satuee or roast of vegetables served with a simply grilled fish or chicken was pretty much on repeat. As was this dessert here. I made a version of this crisp every single time we had guests this summer. In the early summer is was with strawberries and rhubarb, mid-summer it was with cherries and blackberries, and right about now I am making it with the perfectly ripe peaches and blueberries (my favorite fruit crisp duo). 

I have been working for a long time towards a crisp that is free of gluten and dairy, but hardly noticeable to traditional crisp lovers. This version which uses olive oil instead of butter, and a mixture of polenta and a gluten-free flour blend for a bit of crunch and texture, is by far the winner. I was so surprised at how well olive oil works to make a crispy crunch dessert topping. I have also been loving serving it in this limited edition teal colored dutch oven by Le Creuset. The color makes the dessert pop, and the dutch oven is the perfect vessel to cook and serve the dessert in because the top comes in handy for when you want to bake this ahead of time, and keep it waiting on the countertop, covered, until you're ready to serve. I would strongly suggest making this at your next dinner party, before the blueberries and peaches and summertime leave us until next year. 

**This post is sponsored by Le Creuset + Williams Sonoma. All opinions are my own. I am giving away one of these dutch ovens over on my Instagram, so head there for a chance to win! Thanks for supporting the brands that support WCGL! 

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peach + blueberry + polenta crisp | what's cooking good looking
peach + blueberry + polenta crisp | what's cooking good looking

peach + blueberry + polenta crisp

This recipe is inspired by the strawberry + rhubarb + polenta crisp in Gjelina, by Travis Lett, but is adapted to be made gluten + dairy free. 

SERVES
10+ 

INGREDIENTS 

for the topping:
1 cup of gluten-free flour
1/2 cup of quick cooking polenta
1/3 cup of sugar (coconut palm sugar or white sugar)
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
a pinch of sea salt
1 egg
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

for the filling:
2 pints of blueberries
5-6 peaches, pitted and thinly sliced
1/3 cup of sugar (coconut palm or white sugar)
2 tablespoons of gluten-free flour
the juice of 1/2 a lime
a pinch of sea salt

Vanilla ice cream for serving

METHOD

Pre-heat the oven to 375ºF. 

Make the topping:

  • In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, polenta, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the egg and olive oil and whisk until combined. This topping will be a little wetter than more traditional crumble toppings, and that is ok. This can be made in advance and stored in an air-tight container the fridge, if using the same week, or you can place it into a container and store in the freezer for a few months. 

Make the filling, add the topping + bake:

  • In a large dutch oven (3.75QT) or baking dish (10"x14"), combine the blueberries, peaches, sugar, flour, lime, and salt. Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the top. 
  • Bake until the crisp topping is lightly browned and the filling is bubbling, about 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool, uncovered, for at least 20 minutes before serving. 
  • Serve warm with a scoop of your favorite ice cream. 

squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza"

squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza" | what's cooking good looking
squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza" | what's cooking good looking

The farms stands has been open for several weeks now, where I spend my summer on the East End of Long Island. They've certainly been open since my last blog post here ........ it's been so nice and refreshing to spend the past several weeks cruising the farms with little on my list, getting inspired by what I find. I literally cried the first day the farmstand in my town opened. I know that sounds a bit ridiculous, and they were happy tears, obviously .... I must have been feeling a little overly emotional that day, but still, the farms in our area make me that happy. 

I decided recently to take a little more time to myself, away from writing recipes, and writing in general. After a big project like writing a book, I felt like I needed some more me-time to reboot, refresh and to get reacquainted with myself in my kitchen, without an agenda, or without a huge to-do list of recipes. Going to the farm stand without a list of groceries has been liberating, and energizing. I desperately needed that jolt of energy, and to cook for fun a little again before diving into our next big project that gets going in a few weeks (MORE ON THAT HERE). Someone recently said to me, you know that you love what you do if you miss it while you take a break. So happily, I can say, I do love what I do .... I did miss writing and coming up with new recipes, and I am so excited to be doing it all over again.

Often times when am I developing recipes, I will have a recipe in mind (or mostly written) before I even start cooking. One of the biggest things that I have discovered (or remembered!) during this time to myself is that if I let some of that control go a little bit, some magic can happen in the kitchen. This recipe is a perfect example of that happening. I went to the farm with no list, just wanting to pick up a few veggie gems to cook with for the week. I picked up some fresh chives, half-a-dozen or so squash blossoms, a jar of pesto, some goat's cheese, and a few other things. I knew for lunch I wanted to make something with those squash blossoms, and I also had some sort of pizza/flat bread thing on my mind. I had chickpea flour in my pantry, because I always have chickpea flour in my pantry ... so I started cooking with hopes that I could turn my regular socca/chickpea crepe recipe into something more pizza-like. And here it is. I have made this a few times since that day, because it was that good, and I knew it was the first recipe I needed to share to get me back into this space. Of course you can mix and match with whatever topping you like, including a dairy-free cheese, or other veggies combinations, but I do hope you try this chickpea/socca pizza base. It is one of the best gluten-free bases I have found for when the mood strikes for something pizza-like. 

squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza" | what's cooking good looking
squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza" | what's cooking good looking
squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza" | what's cooking good looking
squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza" | what's cooking good looking
squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza" | what's cooking good looking

squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza"

MAKES
about 2 mini pizzas (4 slices each)

INGREDIENTS

for the socca pizza crust:
1 cup of chickpea flour
1 cup of water
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
a couple pinches of sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper
a handful of chopped chives (optional)
a couple tablespoons of ghee

for the toppings:
6-8 squash blossoms, stems and pistol removed
a few tablespoons of pesto (either homemade or store-bought)
several dollops of goat's cheese, or your favorite non-dairy cheese

METHOD

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt, pepper, and chives (if you're using), until fully incorporated and a batter has formed. Set aside to rest for about 20-30 minutes. 
  • Meanwhile, pre-heat the broiler and have your toppings ready to go, next to the stove top. 
  • Heat a large cast iron with the ghee over medium-high heat. Ladle about 1 cup of the batter into the pan and cook until bubbles start rising to the surface and the edges look cooked. Then, place a couple of spoonfuls of the pesto onto the batter, a couple of dollops of the cheese, and finish with 3-4 of the squash blossoms and then place the cast iron into the oven under the broiler. Cook for 5-10 minutes (checking often since broiler cooking times vary greatly). You know the pizza is done when the cheese is melty and the edges are browned.
  • Remove, and carefully transfer the pizza to a cutting board, cut into slices, and serve.
  • If you want to make additional pizzas (the batter will make 1-2 more), then start all over again with heating the ghee and ladling the batter into the cast iron. Alternatively, you can save the batter for another day/use. It will keep for about a week in an air-tight container in the fridge. 

chocolate chia mousse + cardamon rose coco whip | from the kale + caramel cookbook

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You may have noticed that I have been away from this space for a little while. I have been taking a much needed mini work break, after the last push of my cookbook and before starting on some exciting new projects ..... one of which includes a studio space in Brooklyn, NY, that me and my good pal, Hetty, are opening in a month or so. The space has long been a dream of both of ours, and will be used for so many things, from hosting lunches, dinners, cooking classes, cookbook clubs, to anything and everything that combines friends, family, community and all things food. To stay informed on the space, and  the events we will be hosting later this year, head to the website, and sign up for our newsletter: https://www.neighborhoodstudiobk.com 

While I have been away, a number of really wonderful books, and cookbooks have been released, and I have been enjoying going through each one, reading their stories, and cooking their recipes. This recipe I am sharing today came from a newly released cookbook, Kale and Caramel, by my friend, Lily Diamond who has a well-loved blog by the same name. Lily is one of those people, even though we have yet to meet in person, it feels as though I know her so well. Through her honest, thought-provoking writing, and her love for nature and beautiful, tasty, healthy food, it is hard to not fall in love with Lily herself, and want to be best friends with her. 

While I have made a few recipes from her book, I chose to share this one because it looked like the perfect kind of chocolatey, healthy, indulgence, and because Lily was so kind to send some gorgeous, dried, edible rose petals with her book, and I new I needed to use them asap. The chapters in her book are organized by herbs and flowers, which I thought was such a fun and unique way to organize a cookbook. Also, I am not well versed in cooking with certain flowers such as jasmine, orange blossom, and rose, so it's been really fun learning about and experimenting with these beautiful flavors. But, my favorite part of the book is that is not only provides recipes to eat, is also gives recipes for homemade, plant-based beauty infusions such as face masks, exfoliators, and lotions all using ingredients found in your kitchen, that are pure enough to eat. I cannot wait to try out every single one! To get more info on this wonderful book .... click this link to head to Lily's blog to find out more: http://www.kaleandcaramel.com/kale-caramel-cookbook-recipes-for-body-heart-and-table/

chocolate chia mousse + cardamom rose coco whip | what's cooking good looking
chocolate chia mousse + cardamom rose coco whip | what's cooking good looking
chocolate chia mousse + cardamom rose coco whip | what's cooking good looking
chocolate chia mousse + cardamom rose coco whip | what's cooking good looking

chocolate chia mousse + cardamom rose coco whip

*This recipe is from the Kale and Caramel cookbook, by Lily Diamond, pg. 216

MAKES
4-6 servings 

INGREDIENTS
 

for the chocolate chia mousse:
3/4 cup of chia seeds
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
2 pinches of sea salt
2 1/4 cups of nut milk of your choice
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon of orange zest
1/8 teaspoon of ground cardamom

for the cardamom rose coco whip:
1 (13.5 oz) can of full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated upside down for a few hours
2 tablespoons of confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon of rose water
1/4 teaspoon of cardamom

some (optional) toppings:
1 /4 cup of cacao nibs
1 tablespoon of dried edible rose petals

METHOD

Make the mousse:

  • At least one hour before serving, combine the chia seeds, cocoa powder and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the nut milk, maple syrup, and vanilla and whisk until all of the cocoa powder clumps are dissolved and the chia begins to thicken. Cover and place in the fridge for at least an hour, or overnight. 
  • Transfer the pudding to a blender or food processor and blend until creamy and smooth. 
  • Then, in a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips until they are completely smooth. Add the chocolate, orange zest, and cardamom to the blender or food processor with the pudding and blend or pulse until all is incorporated. Taste and adjust any sweetness or salt if you like. Transfers the mouses to a large bowl and refrigerate for 2-3 hours to set.

Make the coco whip:

  • Open the can of coconut milk (that's been refrigerated) and scoop out the thick coconut cream and discard or save the liquid for another use. In a large bowl, mix the coconut cream, sugar, rose water, and cardamom. Then whip with an electric mixer on high until the mixture is smooth, light, and whippy. 

Assemble and serve:

  • Divvy up the mousse into individual serving glasses or bowls, and top with a spoonful of the coco whip. Finish with a sprinkle of the cacao nibs and rose petals (if using), and serve.  


 

spring onion miso soup + quinoa + radish relish

spring onion miso soup + quinoa + radish relish | what's cooking good looking
spring onion miso soup + quinoa + radish relish | what's cooking good looking

I know that I have eluded to the fact that I have been working on something "big and exciting" a few times. I have spoken about a bit on Instagram, but I have yet to make  a big reveal in this space ....the home of where this "big and exciting" project all came to be. For the better part of the past year, I have been working on a cookbook with Roost Books that is set to be released in the Spring of 2018 .... and, I just cannot wait to share it with you!

When coming up with the concept for the book, I thought a lot about the kind of everyday cooking that I like to do at home. The kind of cooking that I like to do for myself, or my family and friends is super simple. I like intuitive cooking, and I like choosing one or two ingredients (such as a vegetables and one powerhouse spice) to stand out. I don't like to spend hours hunting down obscure ingredients, and I don't like to spend hours following a recipe, cooking, and then doing all the dishes. I find that if cooking is easier, simplified, but still creative + exciting .... I am more likely to do it often. I am sure you feel the same way too. 

With this in mind, I came up with 125 recipes with a focus on simply, nourishing, easy-going meals .... all with fewer ingredients and less time spent in the kitchen. And, every recipe with be gluten, dairy, and soy free, with the option to add in extra indulgences if the mood strikes. I have had so much fun coming up with, and testing the recipes for the book, that I actually had a hard time pairing things down. Especially when it came to condiment and sauces, so there is a whole section dedicated to that. As well as how to efficiently stock (and not over-stuff) your pantry. There will also be a section for easy vegetarian mans, as well as seafood.

The past few months has been crunch time (which is why I had to scale back a little here, on the blog). We've been going back and forth with edits, shooting ALL of the photos, making this idea fully come to life. A lot heart, soul, sweat, and tears (yes, there have been tears) goes into a project like this ..... and so when you start to see it come together with photos, a cover, and design, it begins to feel so real, and all of that hard work starts to feel so worthwhile. It's a hard thing, wirting a book and putting yourself out there, but if it at all helps more people get inspired to cook more often, and make health(er - ish) choices too ..... then I know that it was all worth it. 

SO, I don't want to get too excited yet, there's still many months between now and the official pub date, which will be sometime in the spring of 2018. However, I am excited that I get to start giving some more love back to this space. Sharing more of the same simple ingredient highlighting recipes (including several that did not make it into the book) here over the next several months. Starting with this simple spring celebratory soup. 

This soup, with just two main ingredients, highlights the first (and only) spring-like vegetable I could find at the market the other day. Spring onions are sautéed with potato and garlic, simmered with miso, and then pureed for velvety soup which is then finished off with a zesty, crunchy radish relish to give it a punch of brightness. Of course, either the soup or the relish can be made on their own, but I think you will be pleaseantly surprised to find how well these two spring recipes go together. 

**To stay updated on the book... be sure to subscribe to emails from my blog (by entering your email in the sidebar) -------> 

spring onion miso soup + quinoa + radish relish | what's cooking good looking
spring onion miso soup + quinoa + radish relish | what's cooking good looking
spring onion miso soup + quinoa + radish relish | what's cooking good looking
spring onion miso soup + quinoa + radish relish | what's cooking good looking

spring onion miso soup + quinoa + radish relish

SERVES
2-4

INGREDIENTS

3-4 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
about 2 cups of spring onions, white parts (green parts reserved), diced
2 white potatoes, peeled and diced
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon of mellow white miso, dissolved into 1 cup of water
+ 3 additional cups of water

for the radish relish:
1 watermelon radish, thinly sliced into matchsticks
the green tops from the spring onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon of lime juice
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 teaspoon of honey
a pinch of sea salt

to serve: about ½ cup of cooked quinoa

METHOD

In a medium heavy-bottomed pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and potato and cook for several minutes until the onion and potato are both soft. Add the garlic and cook for another two minutes while stirring. Then add the cup of water that the miso is dissolved in. Then add the additional 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the radish relish.  Place all of the ingredients for the relish into a small bowl and give it a stir to combine. Set aside until you're ready to serve. This can also be done a few days in advance and kept in an airtight container in the fridge. 

When the soup is done simmering, puree it  by using an immersion blender or by transferring to a blender and blending until smooth. Distribute the soup amongst individual bowls, and top each with a spoonful of quinoa and a spoonful of relish. Any leftover soup can be kept for a few days in an airtight container in the fridge.