grilled eggplant + hummus

I have this little blue notebook where I write my recipes. It’s filled with lists of ingredients, and quick bulleted instructions that probably only make sense to me. Every page shows evidence of ingredients past — a splatter of red wine stains the page that reads “risotto”, a smear of oil on the one marked “beet greens pesto”. There are scribbles and question marks, cross outs and ripped corners, and dark circles around the ingredients I often forget. Some pages are ripped out, signs of disappointments and failed attempts, while others are dog-eared and faded from constant use. 

Some days, when my mind feels too jumbled from the seemingly unending feeds of beautifully prepared dishes and innovative recipes in the media, I find myself referring back to my blue book, as a way to center myself. The other day proved to be one of those times. As I flipped through its stained and crumpled pages, I came to a page that caught my attention. In stark contrast to the pages surrounding it, this one appeared almost empty, save for a few lines and a simple title that read, “hummus”.  

Armed with my book, and the ingredients I had on hand, I went about preparing that hummus — nothing more than some chickpeas, a few spoonfuls of tahini, a drizzle of garlic infused olive oil and a whirl in the blender. I grabbed a few eggplants that I had picked up a few days earlier at the market, speckled lavender and white, and cut them into spears to grill. I threw everything on a board, added a drizzle of tahini, a few vibrant herbs, and some naan bread warmed in the oven, and paused briefly to remind myself: simple is best. Simple is what inspires you. 


grilled eggplant + hummus

I’ve never been a huge fan of eggplant, as I find it lacks flavor without its skin, but I often find the skin tough and unappetizing. I recently discovered these lavender and white speckled, delicate-skinned varietals at the farmers market, however, which I love. When grilled, they still hold their shape, but become soft and creamy on the inside, making for a delicious preparation and a beautiful presentation. Paired with some vibrant herbs and creamy hummus, this dish is perfect for a casual, light dinner, or for a fun appetizer. The hummus recipe can easily be doubled if you are making this for a party! 

 

for the eggplant:

4 small eggplants (preferably Antigua eggplants, or another delicate-skinned, non-bitter varietal)

extra virgin olive oil

salt, to taste

2 tablespoons tahini paste

1 teaspoon sesame seeds, for garnish

a few handfuls of fresh mint and parsley, for garnish

 

for the hummus:

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 – 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 15 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

4 tablespoons tahini paste

1 teaspoon coarse salt

2 tablespoons water

squeeze of lemon juice

sesame seeds and chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

naan bread for serving

 

First, prepare the eggplant: trim the ends and cut into long spears. If your eggplant has a lot of seeds, make sure to only use the outermost flesh with the least amount of seeds [the seeds are often bitter]. Line a sheet pan with paper towel and spread the eggplant over it in an even layer. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and allow to rest while you prepare the hummus. *This step is optional, but I find that eggplant does not absorb as much olive oil when they are salted first.

Next, prepare the hummus: in a small sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil. Once warm, add the crushed garlic and sauté until fragrant [about 2-3 minutes]. Remove from heat. 

In a blender or food processor, add the chickpeas, olive oil and garlic, tahini paste, salt, water, and squeeze of lemon juice. Blend until smooth. Use a rubber spatula to transfer hummus to a bowl and taste for seasoning. 

Once eggplant has rested for about 15 – 20 minutes, pat it dry with paper towels to absorb all of the moisture that has beaded at the surface and to rub off any excess salt. Drizzle eggplant very generously with extra virgin olive oil. Preheat a grill or grill pan over high heat and brush grates with olive oil. Working in batches [making sure not to overcrowd the grill or pan], grill the eggplant on all sides until golden brown on the outside and very soft when touched [the length of time will depend on how thick your spears are. For reference, mine took 6 – 8 minutes each]. Make sure to give them time, as there is nothing worse than undercooked eggplant! If you are working in a grill pan, you may have to drizzle the pan with more olive oil between batches. 

Once cooked, remove the eggplant from the grill and transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle with tahini paste, and garnish with mint, parsley, sesame seeds, and coarse salt [if needed]. Top hummus with a drizzle of olive oil, and chopped parley and sesame seeds as garnish. Serve the grilled eggplant + hummus with warmed naan bread for dipping. It’s especially delicious if you add some hummus and eggplant to a piece of naan and eat it like crostini!

 

serves 4 as an appetizer

 

stone fruit galette


stone fruit galette

This galette is a great way to use those end-of-summer juicy, ripened stone fruits, and a fitting treat for the final warm evenings of the summer.

 

ingredients:

2 batches of pastry dough

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

juice of 1/2 a lemon

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

pinch of salt

about 4 cups of sliced peaches, plums, and nectarines (I used approximately 5 small peaches, 2 small plums, and 1 nectarine), pitted and sliced

1 egg

splash of milk or cream

sugar for sprinkling over the galette

 

First, prepare two batches of the pastry dough [separately] and transfer to the fridge to chill for at least an hour. While the dough chills, prepare the fruit: in a large bowl, combine both sugars, lemon juice, flour, and a pinch of salt. Add the slices of stone fruit and gently toss, making sure that each slice of fruit is completely covered with the sugar mixture. Cover and set aside in the fridge while you prepare the dough. 

Once the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. [It’s important that you use a half sheet pan with raised sides to catch any juices that may run during baking].

On a floured work surface, roll out both discs of dough in two large circles until about 1/8″ in thickness. Roll one circle of dough around the rolling pin, and unroll onto the lined sheet pan. Spoon the fruit mixture in the middle of the circle, leaving a 2-3 inch border around the edges.

Cut the second circle of dough into 1 1/2 – 2 inch strips. Weave the strips in a lattice pattern over the top of the fruit, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Trim the ends to leave a 2-inch inch border of the bottom layer of dough. Working around the galette, fold the bottom layer of dough up over the edge of the lattice and filling, making sure that the filling is completely enclosed in the crust.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and splash of milk or cream. Using a pastry brush, generously brush all exposed areas of the dough. Sprinkle sugar over top of the egg wash [I like to use a coarse sugar for texture, but plain granulated sugar would work as well].

Transfer to the oven and bake until the crust is golden and the fruit filling is thick and bubbling, about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Make sure to keep an eye on the crust — if it starts to look too brown, cover it loosely with aluminum foil for the remainder of the time in the oven.

Allow galette to rest for about 15 minutes before cutting it into wedges. Serve with big scoops of vanilla ice cream.

 

For the pastry dough:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

pinch of coarse salt

12 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1/2 cup ice water

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter, and using your hands, work it into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal [there should be bits of butter visible throughout]. Add the water and mix until the dough just comes together. Flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before using. Make two batches [separately] for this pie.

chilled corn + fennel soup with crab

chilled corn + fennel soup with crab

This soup highlights the sweetness of fresh summer corn, with a subtle anise flavor from fresh fennel. All of the scraps from the vegetables in this recipe are used to make an easy, and flavorful, homemade vegetable stock — so you don’t have to feel badly about wasting a thing. The recipe is a bit loose, and the consistency of the soup will depend on how much corn your 6 cobs produce — luckily, it is easy to adjust by just adding more vegetable stock at the end. You can also omit the crab if you do not have access to fresh crab meat or would like to make this soup vegetarian.

 

for the vegetable stock + soup:

6 fresh corn cobs

1 leek

1 fennel bulb (stalks and fronds still attached)

5 cloves of garlic [4 smashed and peeled, 1 peeled and minced]

2 bay leaves

2 large handfuls of roughly chopped fresh chives

2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

 

for the crab:

1 cup fresh lump crab meat

1 tablespoon chopped fresh fennel fronds

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter

 

First, prepare the vegetables and vegetable stock:

Corn: shuck the corn, and cut the kernels from the cobs. Place the kernels in a medium bowl and using the back of your knife, scrape the milk from the cobs into the bowl with the kernels. Set corn kernels and milk aside. Add the empty cobs to a large stock pot.

Leek: Fill a small to medium-sized bowl with cold water. Cut the dark green part of the leek from the white and light green portion. Slice the white and light green portion in half lengthwise and chop into thin half-moons [should measure about 1 cup of chopped leek]. Transfer the chopped leek to the bowl of water, using your hands to separate the pieces and allowing all the grit to sink to the bottom of the water. Once clean, remove leeks from the water and drain on paper towels. Set aside. Chop the dark green part of the leek into large pieces and add to the stock pot with the corn cobs.

Fennel: Remove the fennel stalks from the bulb. Reserve a few of the fronds for the crab and garnish, and chop the rest of the stalks into 3 – 4-inch pieces and add to the stock pot. Core the bulb and dice [I used a mandolin to slice a couple of pieces from the bulb before coring for garnish, but this is optional]. Measure 1 cup of diced fennel and set aside [this should be about 3/4 of the bulb, depending on the size of your fennel]. Add any remaining fennel to the stock pot. 

To the stock pot, add the 4 cloves of peeled + smashed garlic, bay leaves, chives, peppercorns, 2 teaspoons of the salt, and 9 cups of water. Set over high heat, uncovered, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and keep at a fast simmer, uncovered, for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Drain the stock into another stock pot or large bowl and discard all solids. Set stock aside to cool.

While stock is cooling, prepare the soup: to a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 cup of the reserved diced fennel, the chopped and washed white and light green parts of the leek, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Saute, stirring frequently, until leek and fennel soften and start to caramelize, about 20 – 25 minutes. Add the remaining 1 minced clove of garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add reserved corn kernels and milk, and 2 tablespoons of butter. Saute, stirring until butter has just melted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add 3 cups of the reserved vegetable stock.

Working in batches, blend the corn mixture until smooth [making sure to only cover the blender with a kitchen towel so that steam can escape]. Depending on your preference, at this point you can adjust the consistency of the soup with more vegetable stock [remember to just add a little at a time — you can always add more — and also remember the the soup with thicken slightly as it cools]. Once your desired consistency is reached, pour the soup into a large bowl or stock pot, cover, and transfer to the refrigerator to chill until cold, at least 2 hours.

Once soup has chilled, prepare the crab: in a small bowl, combine lump crab meat, fresh fennel fronds, lemon juice, and melted butter. Ladle soup into bowls and spoon crab over top. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and garnish with flaked salt, fennel fronds and fresh chives if desired.

serves 4

plum + almond tart


plum + almond tart

Sweet, tart plums and toasted almonds are enveloped in a rich, buttery crust in this take on a summer classic. I can see this as the perfect end to a grill night or summer picnic. This recipe makes a smaller tart (serves 2 – 4), so make sure to make multiple if you are hosting a party.

for the pastry crust:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

pinch of salt

6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon ice water

 

for the filling:

6 small plums (I used a mixture of mirabelles and santa rosas)

1/2 cup slivered almonds

4 tablespoons sugar

1/2 of a vanilla bean

confectioner’s sugar, for serving

First, prepare the pastry crust: in a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the cold butter pieces, and using your hands or a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles very coarse meal (there should be larger and smaller of pieces of butter incorporated throughout). Add the ice water and mix until the mixture just begins to form a dough, being careful not to over mix). Form the dough into a thin disc and wrap in a piece of plastic wrap, again being careful not to overwork the dough. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least an hour. 

Once dough has chilled, transfer to a work surface that is lightly dusted with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a circle that is about 1/8 of an inch in thickness. Drape rolled dough into a 6″ pie pan, with a removable bottom, and 1 1/2 – 2 inch deep sides. Without stretching the dough, press it into the pan so that it completely covers the bottom and sides. Roll the rolling pin over the top of the pan to trim the scraps (the dough should just come to the top of the walls of the pan). Cover pan and dough with plastic wrap and transfer to the freezer to chill as you prepare the filling. 

While dough is chilling in the freezer, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and prepare the filling: halve the plums by cutting in a circular motion around their pits (like you would an avocado) and twist. Remove pits and discard. Set halved and pitted plums aside.

Split the 1/2 vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into a small bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of the sugar, and using your hands, work the seeds into the sugar until completely incorporated. Meanwhile, add slivered almonds to a small sauté pan over medium-low heat. Toast, shaking pan occasionally, until almonds are fragrant and lightly brown. Remove 1 tablespoon of the almonds and set aside for garnish. Add the remaining almonds and vanilla sugar mixture to a mortar and pestle and grind into a coarse meal (you can also use a food processor for this step, but I like the rustic consistency that a mortar and pestle provides). 

Remove the chilled dough from the freezer (it should be super cold and firm at this point, if not allow it chill a bit longer). Sprinkle the almond and sugar mixture over the bottom and arrange the plum halves over top of the sugar, cut sides down. Sprinkle with reserved 1 tablespoon of toasted almonds and the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Place tart on top of a small baking pan (with raised sides) to catch any juices that may leak while baking, and transfer to the preheated oven. Bake until crust is golden and tops of plums are lightly browned, 40-45 minutes. 

Remove tart from oven and allow to cool in pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes (this step is important, as the tart would be a watery mess if cut into before having a chance to cool). After the tart has cooled, carefully remove the sides of the pan and transfer to a serving platter. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and cut into wedges to serve.  

serves 2 – 4