Warm Belly, Sound Mind
Warm as the winter’s been, there’s still no avoiding this no man’s land: too far off from last summer’s heat and this spring’s blooms to find solace in either. So it’s up to us to create our own comfort, to which there’s no more direct road than a hearty, warming meal. Think steaming broths, melting cheese and moist pie crusts. They’re the kind of simple indulgences that make us want for nothing more than seconds before tucking in for a few hours to binge-watch “Master of None.” —Scott Edwards
Recipes and photography by Yelena Strokin
[divider]Cauliflower Cake with Flaxseed[/divider]
1 small cauliflower head
1 tbsp. melted butter
2 tbsps. flaxseed, 1 tbsp. reserved
3 tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. smoked paprika
5 tbsps. chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup shredded Swiss and cheddar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Line a springform cake pan with parchment paper, brush the sides with melted butter and spread one tablespoon of the flaxseed around the inside.
Cut the cauliflower into small florets. Fill a large saucepan with salted water, place it over a high heat and add the cauliflower. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook the cauliflower until it becomes tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a small pan, then add the onion and cook it over a medium heat until it browns, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the burner and let the onion cool.
In a large bowl, mix the eggs, the turmeric and the paprika. Then incorporate the flour, baking powder, cooked onion, cilantro and cheese. Whisk until the consistency becomes smooth, then fold in the cooked cauliflower. Stir gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the mixture into the cake pan, spread evenly and sprinkle the remaining flaxseed over top. Put the pan in the center of the oven and bake until the cake turns golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Then, remove it from the oven and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
[divider]Rustic Cod Soup[/divider]
1½ pounds fresh Atlantic cod
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium red or white onion, sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and julienned
1 yellow pepper, julienned
6 tbsps. chopped parsley, 3 tbsps. reserved
1 cup clam juice
1 tbsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. smoked paprika
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
¼ cup chopped scallions
In a large, deep saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat and pan-fry the garlic and onion for a minute. Add the carrot and pepper and cook for another five minutes. Remove the saucepan from the burner.
Cut the cod into large chunks and add it to the saucepan along with three tablespoons of the parsley. Pour in the clam juice, then the lemon juice. Incorporate the paprika and season with salt and pepper to taste. Return the saucepan to the burner and simmer until the cod becomes tender, about 15 minutes.
Serve in warm bowls. Garnish with the scallions and remaining parsley.
[divider]Chicken and Red Currant Pie[/divider]
If you can’t find red currants, you can swap them with cranberries.
1 lb. ground chicken
1 lb. ground veal or pork sausage
1 tbsp. ground coriander
1 tbsp. mixed dried herbs
2 oranges, the rind finely grated
2 tsps. ground ginger
2 tsps. salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 lb. chicken breast fillets
1 cup fresh red currants
4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup butter or lard
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup equal parts milk and water mixture
1 egg, beaten
In a large bowl, mix together the ground chicken and veal (or sausage), the coriander, herbs, orange rind, ginger and salt. Season with pepper to taste.
PASTRY AND ASSEMBLY
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the salt to a large bowl, then sift in the flour. In a small pan, heat the butter (or lard) and the milk-water mixture until it starts to boil. Remove the pan from the burner at that point and allow its contents to cool slightly. Then, stir it into the flour, forming the dough.
Move the dough to a clean work surface and knead it until the consistency becomes smooth. Cut off a third to use as the lid, wrap it in plastic and store it in a warm place. On a floured work surface, roll out the remaining dough and line, bottom and sides, a greased, eight-inch springform cake pan with it. If the dough cools too much, it’s likely to tear, so move quickly.
Cut the chicken breasts into thin slices. Place them between two sheets of plastic wrap and flatten them to an eighth of an inch with a rolling pin.
Spoon half the ground-meat mixture into the cake pan, spreading it evenly and to the edges. Layer half the chicken breast slices over top, then the red currants. Layer on the remaining chicken breasts and cover them with the rest of the ground meat.
Roll out the dough that was set aside for the lid on a floured surface. Drape it across the pan, trim off any excess and seal the edges with the beaten egg. Cut a hole in the center of the lid to allow steam to escape while the pie bakes. If you want to get creative, cut some shapes out of the excess dough and apply them to the lid. Then brush the entire lid with the remaining egg. Bake for two hours. If the lid starts to turn a dark brown, cover it with aluminum foil.
[divider]Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies[/divider]
Makes about 24.
8 tbsps. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsps. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
¾ cup white chocolate chips
1 cup and 2 tbsps. coarsely chopped unsalted pistachios, 2 tbsps. reserved
¾ cup dried apricots, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.
In a bowl, combine the butter and brown sugar and mix them, either with a stand mixer or a handheld, at a medium speed until the consistency is smooth. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Incorporate the eggs one at a time at a low speed, then the vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add it to the other bowl, mixing at a low speed. Stir in the chocolate chips and then a cup of the pistachios and the apricot.
Place heaping tablespoons of the cookie dough about an inch-and-a-half apart on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the remaining pistachios over top. Bake until the cookies set but are still soft to the touch, about 10 minutes. Repeat the process until all of the dough is used.
Yelena Strokin is a Newtown-based food stylist and photographer and the founder of the blog melangery.com.