I love the way that seemingly complex things can seem simple under the right lens, approach, or perspective. If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, you know how I feel about simplifying. There are always bags for donation piled in the front end of the garage, yet I never seem to be able to really, truly simplify. I’ve always suspected that the root of the issue is having too much stuff, but no matter how much I get rid of there is still clutter, mess, and disorganization.
You can imagine my excitement upon ordering The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I’m in the middle of reading it and applying the method to my own belongings before moving on to the kids’ belongings, and Kyle is going to apply it to his things too. I have filled several bags full of clothes and boxes of books for donation. I’ve dumped loads of papers in the recycle and I just recycled all my old back issues of Vogue. There’s a small part of me that loved having all those old issues of Vogue, but the reality of it in a cluttered home is much less “Carrie Bradshaw cute”, and way more “Carrie Bradshaw neurotic”.
If any of you have read the book you’ll see I’m only part of the way through the process. I am trying to take it one day at a time and not go overboard (something I have a tendency to do) and try to do it all at once… and also trying to be okay with the fact that in the meantime our house is inarguably a disaster! I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how our physical environment reflects our emotional life and visa versa. Meaning that if we tend to feel scattered, frazzled, and overwhelmed that our space will not only reflect that feeling, but contribute to it. The way we feel and the space in which we live are intrinsically linked together. My friend Amanda recently wrote a post about how keeping a tidy house helps her with her anxiety. This gives me a more clear and motivated reasons to really, truly simplify.
I also love having a project, especially when things are hard, which they have been. Having something to chip away at helps me stay more centered and focused on something that I have some control. There’s an element of cooking that is centering and focused too, which is probably why I love it so much.
In cooking, just like in tidying, things that seem complicated can really be the simplest of things. Whipping up tart, silky mayonnaise seems like a daunting prospect but in actuality it’s a simply a matter of whisking the right ingredients in in the right order. Making earthy, deep stock from scratch can sound overwhelming but it’s actually just a matter of throwing a few things into a pot, covering them with cold water and letting them simmer away. Making fresh pasta can appear to be complicated, but it is really flour and eggs pulled together, left to rest, rolled out, and cut.
The same goes for complicated sounded meals like Braised Endive Tartines with Prosciutto and Lemon Ricotta. Just the word “tartine” can sound complicated, but it’s really just fancy toast. Braising is one of the simplest forms of cooking. Watery, crisp, bitter endives are quickly chopped and sautéed before being doused with heavy cream and popped into the oven until they have completely surrendered and are soft, caramelized, fragrant and densely rich.
Crisp, buttery toasts are smeared with ricotta that’s riddled with vibrant flecks of lemon zest, topped with salty, ribbon-thin prosciutto, and then piled with the creamy endives. I love to serve these toasts with bitter arugula that’s been tossed in a simple Lemon and Tarragon dressing. The bold salad flavors cut through the richness of the tartines and also help brighten them up.
BRAISED ENDIVE TARTINES WITH PROSCIUTTO AND LEMON RICOTTA
6 cups trimmed and sliced endive
12 slices prosciutto, very thinly sliced
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup ricotta
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
2” sprig fresh tarragon, plus 1 tablespoon minced for the salad dressing
2 tablespoons butter, plus more for the toasts
6-8 slices crusty french bread, sliced
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
about 4 cups arugula
Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in oven-safe pan over medium heat. Sauté the endives for 3-5 minutes, until they have sweated off a bit of moisture and wilted a little. Turn off the heat before adding the butter, cream, nutmeg, and a bit of salt and pepper. Toss in the sprig of tarragon. Stir together and transfer to the oven.
Bake for 1 hour, remove from the oven, stir it together, and return it to the oven for another 30-45 minutes, until the cream is thickened and the top is a deep golden brown. Remove the endives from the oven, stir them together, and allow them to cool a bit while you prepare your bread, ricotta, and arugula salad.
In a small bowl whisk together the ricotta and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Butter your slices of bread and place it, buttered side up, on a baking sheet. Pop them under the oven broiler for a few minutes until they are lightly golden and fragrant.
To assemble the toasts, smear each slice of bread with a thick layer of lemon ricotta, top with a little prosciutto and the endives.
For the arugula salad whisk together the lemon juice, the minced tarragon, and continue whisking while drizzling in about 1/2 cup olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss some of the dressing with the arugula.
Plate the toast along with a bit of salad, drizzle a bit of the excess dressing over the toasts if desired, and enjoy immediately.
BRAISED ENDIVE TARTINES WITH PROSCIUTTO AND LEMON RICOTTA
I didn’t mean to be absent from this space so much over the past month, but the events and trials of the last couple of months have taken some time to adjust to. A few months ago, without exactly meaning to, I started seeing a counselor in attempt to finally conquer my life-long battle with anxiety. I expected to be taught some fundamentals of present-moment-awareness, perhaps some simple meditation exercises.
In reality the experience of facing vulnerability and anxiety head on has been incredibly scary and challenging. It’s been confusing and terribly uncomfortable to realize that the way I see and experience things, and the way I process and cope with stress, is all upside down. I feel a bit outside of myself these days. It’s all I can do to keep my eyes and heart open and just keep moving forward. It’s a strange thing to know you have to get to know yourself all over again, and to hope that everyone around you is willing to get to know you all over again, and accept the flawed, raw version of you. If any of this sounds at all familiar to you, you might find this Ted Talk by Brené Brown called The Power of Vulnerability informative and inspiring.
Amidst all of this, my Grandpa passed away. It was a beautiful, blessed experience filled with family support, tons of love, and time… and when it comes down to it family, love, and time are really the most important things we have going for us. While it was his time to make his exit, I miss him very much. My Grandpa loved to bake, he loved sourdough bread, buttermilk pancakes, and he kept a hidden stash of cookies at all times which he doled out happily to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. My Grandpa taught me how to make the most delicious Apple Pie; how to balance the spices in a fruit crumble; talked to me for endless hours about the way baking soda and baking powder worked and how to best store and use them. He was a one of a kind man and an incredible Grandpa.
I’m just taking things one day at a time and trusting that things will get a little easier. In spite of needing things to slow down, they just keep moving along. Right now life feels like a series of waves and I’m just trying to catch my breath in-between them. I’m doing my best to focus on gratitude, take deep breaths, and keep my chin up. I didn’t mean to avoid the blog, but sometimes writing things down here can have the feeling of visiting with a close friend, and with everything going on I didn’t know what to say.
So, here I am just saying hello and sharing a series of photos I took of Lulu eating her cereal because they made me laugh. She’s definitely a good source of comic relief. Next week I’ll get back to sharing recipes, I have a great one for Braised Endive Tartines that I’ve been wanting to post.
This past week was hard. Instead of going into detail on that, I will instead direct your attention to ice cream. I was on my way home from an appointment last week when my friend Anna called. She was at our house watching the girls and a package had been delivered. She informed me, “The FedEx guy was just here and dropped off a big box. He told me it’s full of ice cream!” Never have I loved FedEx, and Anna, so much. When you’re having the toughest week and a box filled with the best ice cream on earth is delivered to your doorstep? Heavenly.
The (amazing) Snoqualmie Ice Cream company sent me nine fantastic pints to enjoy. Nine! The flavors included: Crème Fraîche, Mukilteo Mudd (which Kyle declared to be one of the BEST chocolate desserts he’s ever had), French Lavender, Island Coconut, Honey Cinnamon, Bold Espresso, Almond Poppyseed, Green Tea, and Ginger. I think everyone, regardless of what kind of week they’re having, should have the opportunity to have access to this ice cream. Mid-pint I stopped to email them and see if we could give some away, which is what we are doing. The giveaway (which we are hosting over in Instagram) is for 4 pint coupons. Head over there to see the details.
With that I’m signing off for a nice, relaxing, rainy weekend. I’m hoping for a few extra hours in bed with coffee (or ice cream) and a good book.
Last week was unpredictable, busy, fun and exhausting. For some reason Lulu and I was a real klutzes which added to the unpredictable tone of the week. We woke up on Saturday morning to a filthy house. I spent the week grocery shopping (I dropped and broke some eggs), working on a recipe for a magazine, cooking wonderful dishes from My Paris Kitchen, picking up silly toys for our upcoming road trip at the dollar store (where Lulu knocked over a display of puzzles), replying to photography emails, and attempting to be a great mom, wife, and housekeeper.
In all the business, the housekeeping was the first thing to go… as evidence by the popcorn and banana chips scattered all over the living room for on Saturday morning. Nothing says, “Time to clean up!”, like a banana chip stuck to your sock at 7am. But instead of cleaning we decided to have fun and clean on Sunday instead. We took the kids to a fun, interactive museum (where I knocked over a wooden balance puzzle), and went out to a local brewery for lunch (where Lulu dumped a big glass of water directly into my lap). Sometimes the answer is simple: having fun > than cleaning. We got around to cleaning eventually and are starting off this week with a very tidy, cozy house.
My plan for this week is to keep things simple and tidy so as to swing the pendulum back away from work and over to the mom/wife/housekeeper side of things. After cooking elaborate meals this past week, I’ve opted to keep this upcoming weeks’ menu as simple as possible. I love picking up the crispest, freshest vegetables at the store and creating an easy lunch from them. My favorite way to serve them is to simply clean, dry, and trim them, lay them on a parchment lined tray and whip up a couple simple dips and set them on the table. It’s nice to have a simple, light lunch as I tend to make more elaborate, richer dinners.
There are so many wonderful options for raw vegetables that branch out from the boring broccoli, cauliflower, baby carrot spread. I opt for fun, colorful raw bok choy, radishes, endives, thinly sliced beets, fennel, snap peas, radishes, radicchio, and carrots. Sometimes, I’ll grab a bunch of asparagus, toss them in olive oil, and pop them under the broiler for a few minutes. As for the dips, I’ll often use what I have on hand in the fridge: a bit of harissa whipped into mayonnaise to create a quick “aioli”, or blend some scallion and herbs together with a palmful of capers, sour cream, and buttermilk for a bright, salty dip. If you find yourself with leftover, sliced vegetables and dip they can be transformed into a salad with some torn lettuce and a couple of halved hard boiled eggs, few rounds of crips pancetta, a handful of fresh herbs, and a simple vinaigrette! The idea is to keep it simple and have fun. At least that’s my plan for this week.
CRUDITES WITH HARISSA AIOLI AND CAPER BUTTERMILK DIP
1 golden beet, washed, peeled, and very thinly sliced
1-2 small bunches baby bok choy, trimmed, and washed
1-2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on the bias
center celery stalks, trimmed and cleaned
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cleaned, and very thinly sliced
a handful of asparagus, washed and trimmed
*use any variety of vegetables you wish! Other great options: peas, endives, snap peas, radishes, radicchio, etc.
If you’re using anything like asparagus, toss it on a baking sheet with olive oil, a pinch of kosher salt and fresh pepper, and pop it under the broiler for a few minutes until it brightens and crisps.
Simply plate all of your veggies on a parchment lined tray along with the dips.
Harissa Aioli Ingredients.
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2-1 tablespoon harissa paste
1 tablespoon olive oil
kosher salt (if needed)
In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise and harissa, starting with less and add more depending on the spiciness of your paste. Then, while whisking continuous, drizzle in the olive oil. Taste and season with salt if needed.
Caper Buttermilk Dip Ingredients.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 Italian flat leaf parsley
1-2 scallions, trimmed and roughly chopped
Toss all of the dip ingredients into a small food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl.
CRUDITES WITH HARISSA AIOLI AND CAPER BUTTERMILK DIP