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

kale-and-carmel-mousse-WCGL-02.jpg

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. 

spring loaded gin + lemon tonic cocktail with pink peppercorns + hibiscus salt

spring loaded gin + lemon tonic | what's cooking good looking
the-botanist-cocktail-WCGL-02.jpg

Just like most people, I look forward to spring .... probably more than most seasons. After months of cold, short, gray days, I cannot wait to have more hours of sunlight and higher degrees of temperature. I look forward to the markets being filled with green vegetables once again, and I look forward to things like spring onions, ramps, and artichokes. Spring comes in slowly here in NYC, so sometimes it can feel like a fleeting moment before summer is here and in full swing, so I like to do all that I can to embrace those spring feelings (and vegetables). 

One of my favorite things about spring is that people start to come out of the woodwork. I start to see more of my friends than I did when I was hiding inside watching netflix every single night while making soup and braising things. All of a sudden my social calendar start to fill up with lunches, dinners, and parties. I feel recharged and ready to take on that fuller schedule after my winter hibernation. I get excited to call up friends for spontaneous get togethers, when we finally have those first few warm days to celebrate by sitting outside and sipping fun cocktails and nibbling on some bits. 

Whenever we do host a get together, I love to start with a specialty cocktail, and in the spring and summer it is often some sort of variation of a gin and tonic. It's one of the most refreshing of the classic cocktails, and it's easy to add things like lemon and cucumber to up that freshness. One of my favorite gins is The Botanist, because of it's smooth, herbal flavor, but also because it is a small batch gin that is made with a combination of 22 botanicals that are hand-foraged, locally, by their distiller’s scientists. How's that for some fun party facts to throw around! Also, the bottle is gorgeous and minimal, and looks really nice when you have a little cocktail station set up. I was so excited when The Botanist asked to partner on this spring cocktail, because it is the perfect way to welcome spring, and it's the perfect excuse to call up your friends and have a cocktail party to celebrate. 

 

*This post is sponsored by The Botanist. All thoughts are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support what's cooking good looking! 

the-botanist-cocktail-WCGL.gif
spring loaded gin + lemon tonic | what's cooking good looking
spring loaded gin + lemon tonic | what's cooking good looking
spring loaded gin + lemon tonic | what's cooking good looking
spring loaded gin + lemon tonic | what's cooking good looking

The Botanist Gin + lemon tonic with pink peppercorns + hibiscus salt 

MAKES
1 cocktail

INGREDIENTS 

2oz of The Botanist Gin
1/2oz of simple syrup
4oz of bitter lemon tonic (or regular tonic, and a squeeze of lime juice and a drop of bitters)

to garnish:
a couple of pink peppercorns
a pinch of hibiscus salt (or himalayan pink sea salt)

GLASSWARE:
a tall collins glass
 

METHOD

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, and add the gin and syrup. Shake vigorously for about 10 seconds. Fill the glass with ice and pour the cocktail over the ice. Top off with the lemon tonic, and garnish with the pink peppercorns and the salt and serve. 

minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower

minty pea pesto pasto + crispy roasted cauliflower | what's cooking good looking

When I was growing up, my mom would often take on multiple jobs in order to send my brother and myself to good schools, and eventually to college … and somehow, at the end of every day, she would still manage to throw together a home cooked meal that we would all sit down to dinner at the table and enjoy together. My mom was the best cook I knew (aren’t all our moms) with a big love for vegetables, and would churn out things like escarole and beans, lentil soup, stuffed artichokes …. you know, some of my favorites still to this day.

Although in some ways that sounds idyllic, it wasn’t necessarily. Having a working mother definitely came with some prices and hardships. There were times when I wished my mom would be around more, or when she was around, that she wasn't stressed or worried about work. There were also many times I took those home cooked meals for granted. When you’re young, you just don’t know any better. I never realized how important those things would be in shaping who I am today, until I became a working adult myself. Witnessing my mom’s incredible work ethic, and tenacity to create the best life for her children, taught me so much about the kind of person I strive to be today.

I am forever grateful for the education my mom provided for me, for being able to send me to a university to study art and photography. For putting our schooling over everything else.  But most of all, for instilling in me a love for food, a passion for home cooked meals, and for gathering friends and family around a table.

I was thrilled when SOULPANCAKE and Vitamix asked me to participate in their campaign which is all about gratitude, because I think it is good to be reminded and be able to reflect upon the people and things that have shaped us into who we are now. The things we are most grateful for in our lives, whatever or whoever that may be. To kick off this campaign, they're sharing this video with LA chef Nick Liberato and his surprise story of gratitude for his former boss (you can watch this wonderful story and video below). 

 

Food really is #theotherlovelanguage and is the best way to show gratitude, so to show my gratitude to my mom, as well as to the first days of spring, I am sharing this minty pea pesto pasta with roasted cauliflower. The perfect kind of meal to say goodbye to winter and hello to spring, and also because pesto and pasta were favorites in our house growing up. 

This post was sponsored by SOULPANCAKE and Vitamix . All views are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support WCGL. 

minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower | what's cooking good looking
minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower | what's cooking good looking
minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower | what's cooking good looking
minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower | what's cooking good looking
minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower | what's cooking good looking
minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower | what's cooking good looking

minty pea pesto pasta + crispy roasted cauliflower

SERVES
4

INGREDIENTS

For the cauliflower:
1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets and then thinly sliced
olive oil
salt + pepper

For the minty pea pesto:
1 cup of fresh or frozen peas
5 mint leaves
10 basil leaves
the squeeze of ½ a lemon
½ teaspoon of sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
about 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil

For the pasta:
10-12oz of short pasta (fusilli, penne, cavatelli) – if making this gluten free, I love the Jovial brand brown rice pasta
1 tablespoon of sea salt (for the pasta water)

METHOD

Pre-heat the oven to 400º. Place the cauliflower onto a parchment lined baking sheet, drizzle and toss with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown on top.

Meanwhile, make the pea pesto. Place all of the ingredients, except for the olive oil in to the Vitamix or high powered blender. Pulse a few times, and then add in the olive oil in a slow stream while the blender is running. Do this until you have your desired consistency. I like to keep the pesto on the chunky side.

Boil the pasta. Fill a large pot with water, add the salt, bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to it’s instructions. Strain.

Assemble the dish. In a large serving bowl, add the cooked pasta, and then add all of the pesto on top and stir to incorporate. Add the cauliflower on top, and any other toppings you like and then serve.