This story originally appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Domino, titled “Where Cooking Begins.” Subscribe to be the first to receive each issue!
The realization that my meals start coming together before I’ve even set foot in my kitchen was the inspiration behind Where Cooking Begins. Some of my favorite recipes coincide with farmers’ market day in my Brooklyn neighborhood—I wake up without a plan for what I’m going to cook, but know that whatever it is, it all starts with that outing. I buy whatever looks good, whatever makes me hungry—sugar snap peas, fragrant berries, the frilliest lettuces.
But women cannot live on local seasonal gems alone. There’s an equally important, rational flip side to my unstructured market outings, and it’s called the Internet. I use online ordering regularly and strategically to keep my kitchen stocked with basics so I can come home and put together a meal. The market has the fun stuff. But the basics are critical, too—oils, vinegars, nuts, spices, dried fruits, grains, pasta, condiments. Even though these ingredients may not increase my heart rate, they’re integral to most recipes and stay consistent no matter what time of year it is, which makes them perfect for outsourcing via an online grocery store delivery service.
My hunting and gathering is split between these two approaches. When deciding what to shop for in person and what to order online, I give priority to quality-variable ingredients and automate everything else. The romantic in me wants to shop strictly for those things that spark inspiration and the desire to cook, and my inner pragmatist knows that I can easily turn the food fantasy into reality if the building blocks are already in my kitchen waiting for me. Here are a few recipes that I hope make you excited to click on a burner, any day of the week.
This is spring’s answer to minestrone, and a place to put all of the very early season’s green things. I purposely combine longer-cooked vegetables with vibrant, barely cooked greens and herbs for a mix of sweet and bright notes.
- 1 bunch scallions, whites and greens separated
- 4 oz ramps, trimmed
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp plus 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
- 12 oz small Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into
- ½-inch-thick rounds
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
- ¼ cup white wine
- 2 bunches small bok choy (12 oz total), sliced crosswise into ¼-inch pieces
- 4 oz haricots verts or green beans, trimmed, cut into
- ¼-inch lengths
- 8 oz sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved lengthwise
- 1 cup shelled English peas (from about 1 pound pods)
- Parmigiano rind (optional)
- 8 oz small pasta, such as ditalini or mini shells
- Wide strip of lemon zest
- 1 bunch chives, very thinly sliced
- Flaky sea salt, for serving
Slice scallion whites crosswise into thin rounds (set tops aside). Cut ramp bulbs in half where the pink-hued part of the stem meets the base of the leaves. Slice any large ramp bulbs in half lengthwise. Cut ramp greens crosswise into 1-inch pieces; set aside.
In a large pot, melt butter and 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add scallion whites and ramp bulbs and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened and blond (don’t let them brown), about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and stir to coat. Cook until they have lost their starchy, matte appearance and cut surfaces look shiny, 1 to 2 minutes. Add crushed red pepper and wine and cook until wine is reduced by about half, about 3 minutes more.
Add bok choy, haricots verts, sugar snap peas, and green peas and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently to coat. Cook until bok choy leaves wilt and peas and beans are bright green, about 5 minutes. Add Parmigiano rind, if using, pour 2 quarts water into pot, and bring to a simmer over high heat, about 6 minutes. Reduce to a gentle simmer and cook until potatoes are completely tender but not falling apart, 10 to 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add pasta and set a timer for 2 to 3 minutes less than package instructions (it should be very al dente). Drain pasta and transfer to soup. Add ramp greens and lemon zest. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes to let flavors meld; stir in some water if soup looks too tight. Thinly slice reserved scallion greens and stir together with chives and 6 tablespoons olive oil in a small bowl. Serve soup with a pinch of flaky salt and herb oil spooned over.
Pan-Fried Chicken Thighs With Italian Salsa
Grocers sell chicken thighs either bone-in and skin-on, or boneless and skinless. The ideal situation, in my book, is boneless and skin-on, and until the rest of the world catches on, we have to do it ourselves.
- 12 oz cherry tomatoes, halved and divided
- 4 garlic cloves, 1 finely grated and 3 thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Handful basil leaves
- Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, patted dry
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour, for dusting
- 8 oz thin green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Toss half the cherry tomatoes with grated garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Let salsa sit so flavors can marry and tomatoes release some juices. Working one at a time, place a chicken thigh on a cutting board, skin side down. Press your finger into the flesh until you can feel the thigh bone that runs from one end to the other. Using a sharp paring knife, make short swift cuts along the length of the bone on one side to separate the flesh. Rotate chicken 180 degrees and repeat on other side of bone.
Wiggle the tip of your knife underneath the bone, angle blade upward, and cut bone out completely. Place thigh on a large plate and repeat with remaining thighs. Place flour on a dinner plate. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper, then dredge very lightly in flour, patting excess off until only a sheer coating remains. Heat a large skillet, preferably not cast iron, over medium-high heat. Pour in remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, then lay thighs into pan, skin side down. Cook chicken, undisturbed, until skin is deeply golden brown and flesh is cooked about halfway through, 6 to 8 minutes. Turn chicken and cook on second side until chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes more. Transfer chicken to a platter.
Return pan to medium-high heat and cook green beans, shaking pan occasionally, until charred in spots, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add sliced garlic and reserved tomatoes to pan. Season again with salt and pepper and cook until tomatoes begin to soften and garlic is translucent, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in vinegar, scraping up any browned bits in pan. Serve chicken thighs with beans and tomatoes, with tomato salsa spooned over.
Here is a galette you can make year-round, with the same dough every time and virtually any fruit that’s in season, and it will always work. The key is to bake it until the pastry is deeply browned—not blond, not golden. Browned. That will give it a crisp bottom and the best flavor. And if you go a little too far, remember: It’s not burned, it’s bien cuit.
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 8 ounces cold unsalted butter, cut into 10 or 12 pieces
- All-purpose flour, for surface
- 2 pounds rhubarb
- 1 to 2 tsp grated orange, lemon, or lime zest, plus
- 1 tbsp juice
- Pinch kosher salt
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- Sugar in the raw or granulated sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
- Whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, crème fraîche, or Greek yogurt, for serving
Dump the flour onto a clean work surface, sprinkle salt and sugar over, and toss with your fingers to distribute. Toss butter into the dry ingredients to coat, then use a rolling pin to roll the butter into the flour until it is in long, thin pieces. Pause after every few rolls and use a bench scraper or metal spatula to help corral the mixture as you go, and to scrape off any pieces of butter that stick to the surface and rolling pin. Work quickly so that the butter doesn’t melt; the goal is wide, flat, flexible strips.
Drizzle ¼ cup ice water over and use your hands to evenly distribute; some of the butter may break into smaller pieces, which is fine. Roll dough out to a rectangle about 10 inches long, with a short side facing you. Dust dough and surface with flour as needed to prevent sticking, and scrape pin clean often. Using the bench scraper to help you, fold top third of dough (which will be very crumbly) over the middle, then lift up bottom third and fold it up and over (as though you were folding a letter into thirds). Rotate dough 90 degrees and repeat rolling and folding, gathering loose bits of dough as you go; it will be quite dry and bitsy until about the third rolling and folding. Squeeze a knob of dough in your hand to see if it holds together; if not repeat rolling and folding once more and check again.
Gather dough into a disk, then wrap in plastic wrap and press down to 1 inch thick. Chill dough at least 30 minutes (and up to 2 days). Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 12- to 14-inch round about ⅛-inch thick; don’t worry about slight cracks around perimeter. Dust surface and rolling pin with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Rotate dough often; if it sticks to surface, gently lift it up from one side and scatter flour underneath before continuing. Roll dough onto your pin and unfurl it onto a sheet of parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Slide dough and paper onto a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate while you prep the fruit.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Trim rhubarb, cut into 5-inch-long pieces, and halve lengthwise if stalks are fat. Place prepped fruit in a medium bowl, add citrus zest and juice and salt, and toss gently to distribute. In a small saucepan or skillet, melt butter over medium heat and cook, swirling pan often, until butter foams, turns golden, and then browns, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
Remove dough from refrigerator and scrape rhubarb onto center along with any accumulated juices in bowl, then gently spread it out toward edges, leaving a 3- to 4-inch border. Using the paper to help if needed, lift edges of the dough up and over fruit, working in 2-inch sections around circumference and overlapping dough slightly (fruit should be exposed in center).
Using a pastry brush, gently brush dough with browned butter, then dab it onto exposed fruit. Sprinkle sugar on fruit and all over dough, if you like. It will add a little sparkle and crunch to the finished galette, but it’s 100 percent extra. Transfer baking sheet to oven and bake until crust is deep golden brown and fruit juices are bubbling, about 50 minutes. If it leaks, it leaks. That’s what the parchment is for.
Let galette cool on parchment paper until slightly warm, then use a spatula to transfer to a baking rack to come to room temperature. (If there are a lot of juicy escapees that have caramelized on the parchment paper, make sure to transfer the galette before they harden and fuse the galette to the paper. Serve with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, crème fraîche, or Greek yogurt.
Reprinted from Where Cooking Begins: Uncomplicated Recipes to Make You a Great Cook. Copyright © 2019 by Carla Lalli Music. Photographs copyright © 2019 Gentl and Hyers. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
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