Author Archives: HP

Crucial Condiments: Spicy Red Harissa

Spicy Red Harissa. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Spicy Red Harissa. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

When I was a little girl my family moved to Texas for two years. My father was an engineer for IBM, which I later came to realize stood for “I’ve Been Moved” rather than “International Business Machines.” We moved five time before I entered Kindergarten. The normal reaction to this is not positive. “How terrible to uproot families!” Friends of my parents would say. But I remember those years as exciting adventures that the Platt family embraced with nothing short of enthusiasm. We built a pool to entertain ourselves (and survive the 110 degree summers). It was the mid 1980s so my dad bought a shiny red Mazda RX-7 sports car, the first car to have a “compact disc player,” pop-up headlights, and vanity plates that read “Platt” to match the flashiness of the setting and the era. We would speed to Baskins Robbins in that car, making sharp turns and  blasting Whitney Houston’s latest album. I was four and would sit in the passenger seat (pre-car seat regulations I guess) and my dad would let me shift the gears as the shiny red car sped up and slowed down. Texas was awesome. But one of the many things our stint in Austin exposed our quintet of rural Vermonters to, in addition to big hair and shiny cars, was spicy food. My brother and sister and I were so fascinated by it that we would gather with our next door neighbor and have spicy salsa eating contests. Whoever could withstand the most heat won.  The native Texans always triumphed. And though my parents never really developed a love, much less any tolerance for spice; my brother and sister and I took it with us for life. Harissa has nothing to do with Texas…except that it’s supposed to be spicy. And for those who never broke in their spice tolerance with salsa eating contests, it’s easily adjusted for the faint-of-spice, use less cayenne and few jalapeños.  Harissa is a Tunisian condiment that is good on EVERYTHING.  I love brushing it onto grilled chicken thighs. It’s great on roasted carrots. Serve it with meat, fish, rice or couscous. Your dinner guests will become obsessed and the conversation at the table will be about nothing but the creamy spicy red sauce. After a recent dinner party my friend sent me a text that read, “Harissa is my new ketchup.” That’s quite an upgrade if you ask me. Enjoy! Heather

Harissa. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Harissa. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

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More Cheese Please: Vermont Cheddar and Leek Soup

Vermont Cheddar and Leek Soup. Photo: Heather Platt

Vermont Cheddar and Leek Soup. Photo: Heather Platt

“Isn’t it funny how we all remember Vermont?” Said Nana into the land line phone in her nursing home apartment.

I’d called  her to tell her that her famous Limpa Bread recipe and the guidance she’d given me over the phone the day before had lead to the most perfect batch yet. So perfect that two entire loaves of the crusty, soft, brown goodness seemed to have already disappeared from our countertop. Mysterious, I know.

Nana was pleased. “Mmmm.” She said, imagining she could taste it too. “It’s the best warm, with butter…” she specified trailing off in thought into the fantasy of Limpa deliciousness.  And then it occurred to me. That’s where this came from. This utter obsession with achieving maximum deliciousness, the utmost joy from watching someone happily devour the food you made. I got that from Nana.

“Oh no, I never bothered with any recipes at the restrunt.” She answered after I inquired about the menu items at her and my late-grandfather’s Vermont eatery.

“How did you make everything?” I was blown away. The woman owned, managed and cooked, from scratch with apparently no guidance, everything on the menu at “Bischoff’s Restaurant.” In the 1940s and 50s, hungry skiers  and locals alike piled into cozy wooden benches to enjoy her cooking.

“I just made it and tasted as I went along.” She said matter-of-factly. “Have you ever made my split pea soup? I wrote it down for you somewhere.” I will get that recipe as soon as possible. But until then, this Vermont Cheddar soup will have to do. And it does.

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Filed under Appetizer, Dinner, Fall, Heather Platt, Lunch, Soup/Stew, Uncategorized, Winter

Cooking with an Idiot: Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

Daniel is a genius. It’s also a bit of a miracle that we’re still friends considering after arriving at NYU from Vermont in the fall of 2000, I thought it was okay to wear my brown corduroy overalls to orientation. Daniel, who isn’t shy about his opinions, later admitted to having “judged me harshly” for the poor fashion choice. I’ve had classmates express vague recollections of what they remember as ‘a bear costume’ when they first met me.  I cringe realizing that it was actually those beloved overalls. Thankfully Daniel isn’t shallow and his first impression quickly subsided and fourteen years of friendship continues.

Some of the many stories I want to tell about Daniel include: his unlikely and very brave day on September 11, 2001, his hilarious experience as a rebellious second grader in Santiago, Chile and his stranger-than-fiction roommate in Madrid. But these are long, precious to me (and probably him), and beside the point. So I thought we could sum it all up with a couple of lists.

Things Daniel is good at:

1. Being a best friend. I had my heart broken for the first time during my Freshman year of college. As a result, I cried while in rest pose during yoga class (If you’re in drama school at NYU, you take yoga for credit, naturally.) While the tears streamed down my face onto my mat, arms stretched down my sides in proper Savasana, I felt a hand tap the top of mine, comfortingly.  Daniel on the mat next to me remained still but had reached out his arm just enough to tell me it was all going to be okay. And it was.

2. Writing stories.

3. Making me laugh so hard I can’t breath.

4. Planning trips to the beach. One time on a drive to Malibu, Daniel seemed so unnaturally euphoric  that I became sincerely suspicious and  had to ask if he had taken something.  “No! I just LOVE the beach.”

Things Daniel isn’t good at:

1. Math. Considering his genius in all other areas, this caught me off guard once in a New York City taxi cab. When I exited the yellow vehicle and realized Daniel hadn’t gotten out, I peeked back in to see him with one hand flexed, pushing down on the top of his head in utter confusion as if the pressure on his skull would somehow work as a calculator for computing taxi cab tip amounts.

2. Cooking.  “Is there enough for a hungry Dan?” He used to ask when I offered him whatever cafeteria-alternative I had cooked up in my dorm for my roommates.  “Mmm…it’s a revelation.” He has said with wide eyes while chomping down on corn on the cob with miso butter at my house. “I’m savoring every bite.” He has explained while my husband and I notice that we’re eating embarrassingly faster than him. The compliments certainly make me love cooking for Daniel. But when it comes to his own skills…He has a thing or two to learn. So we made this video.

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Filed under Gluten-free, Heather Platt, Lunch, Main Course, Meat, Summer, Videos

Just Can’t Get Enough: Teriyaki Chicken with Momofuku’s Pickled Vegetables

Teriyaki Chicken with Momofuku's pickled vegetables. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Teriyaki Chicken with Momofuku’s pickled vegetables. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

If you’ve ever dined at any one of the variety of restaurants in David Chang‘s empire, you know that he  always does it right.  I have had the Momofuku cookbook for many years. And as much as I have treasured it and taken pride in the fact that I frequented the original East Village noodle bar when it first opened around the corner from my apartment, I have been wary of the cookbook.  The photographs are stunning but the myriad of new ingredients and daylong preparations, though salivating, had me resorting back to my usual books.

But a recent pickle obsession has made me revisit the lovely wood and peach covered volume. Despite previously embarking on the art of Japanese pickles, I just couldn’t stop thinking about them, or more accurately, how to make them better. Sure enough on page 66, there is a recipe called “Vinegar Pickles, Master Recipe.” For some reason the words “master recipe” just made me SO happy. It’s like I could hear David Chang’s voice speaking to me “Look no further Heather, you have found the ONLY pickle recipe you will ever need.” I felt confident that it would be. And it is.

Teriyaki chicken is not in the Momofuku cookbook. This is my quick and easy weeknight  recipe for the busy home cook. Serve it with those Momofuku master pickles and it will not disappoint.  The pickles can be made up to a month in advance or served immediately. Chang recommends up to a week for “optimum flavor.”

Enjoy!

Heather

Teriyaki Chicken

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Filed under cookbooks, Dinner, Gluten-free, Heather Platt, Lunch, Main Course, Poultry, Quick and Easy

What’s Piroshki? Helen Mirren’s Cabbage Pie

Cabbage piroshki. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Cabbage piroshki. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

 

Pirozhki. Photo credit: Heather Platt

Piroshki. Photo credit: Heather Platt

A few months ago, I had the privilege of interviewing Helen Mirren about her role in the film The Hundred Foot Journey. All lovers of food and France should see this film immediately. I must warn you, however, that it will make you want to get on a plane and fly there immediately. It is a love story that focuses on the way in which food conjures up memories and emotions. So during my four minutes with Dame Mirren, I couldn’t help but wonder what dish brought up memories to her. When Helen answered, “My mother’s piroshki.” I was completely fascinated. I had never heard of this, much less tasted it. She went on to describe the warm cabbage pie that she enjoyed during her childhood.

Pirozhki dough. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Piroshki dough. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

I would never think to make Russian cabbage pie for myself. It sounds labor intensive and strangely daunting. However, I’m not sure if it’s the way Helen Mirren explained  it so deliciously with pure nostalgia in her eyes or the fact that I simply want to eat something that Helen Mirren ate, but I couldn’t help but grow hungry for it too. And seeing as I am part-Russian, my grandfather changed his name from Harold Plotnski to Arnold Platt, (not joking)I felt for the first time that I was connecting with my Russian heritage, surrounded by flour and potatoes while the smell of caraway seeds wafted through my house. Oh, and it tasted really good too!

Enjoy!

Heather

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Filed under Appetizer, Bread, Brunch, Dinner, Heather Platt, Lunch

When Life Gives You Giant Yellow Cucumbers, Make Pickles: Japanese Pickled Carrots and Cucumbers

Japanese Pickled Carrots and Cucumbers. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Japanese Pickled Carrots and Cucumbers. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

I absolutely love pickles. Even when I was young, I would beg my mother to buy me a jar of sweet pickles at the grocery store.  They were like crisp tangy candies that I couldn’t wait to get home and crunch between my teeth.  Years later, as a twenty-something living in New York City, I discovered the Japanese versions of my favorite treat. And for many years, I couldn’t eat at a sushi restaurant without ordering a giant plate of Tsukemono to start.

My favorite place to eat Japanese food, however, is not any of the myriad of NYC spots I frequented over my eight years in the Big Apple. It’s my sister’s house in Massachusetts. She and her husband Takeshi have the most impressive artillery of Japanese sauces, vinegars, spices, and seasonings that an ingredient-hungry cook like myself has ever seen. They also, amazingly, are members of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). So on a recent visit, when my sister reluctantly pulled out a huge bag of giant yellow cucumbers they had received from their farm-share, I knew just what to make. We served them Miso-Glazed Cod, white rice and an avocado salad and they were delicious!

Enjoy!

Heather

Japanese Pickles. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Nephew and Japanese Pickles. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Japanese Pickled Carrots and Cucumbers. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Japanese Pickled Carrots and Cucumbers served here with Miso-Glazed Cod. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

 

Japanese Pickled Carrots and Cucumbers

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Filed under Dinner, Gluten-free, Heather Platt, Lunch, Raw, Salad, Side, Vegan, Vegetarian

The Best Burgers on a Bun: Turkey Cheeseburgers with Caramelized Onions, Bacon, Manchego, Avocado and Spicy Aioli

Turkey Cheeseburger. Photo Credit:  Heather Platt

Turkey Cheeseburger. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

I never thought I would be writing about turkey burgers. How boring. I’ve never ordered a turkey burger at a restaurant, or really like them that much.  The idea of a “healthy” version of anything that is normally delicious tends to make me roll my eyes. But on a recent grocery shopping trip, my husband suggested that we ( meaning, I) make them for dinner. Instead of turning my nose up to such a non-traditional burger idea, I saw it as a challenge. How can I make this low-fat concept into something completely mouthwatering and delicious? Homemade aioli, avocado, caramelized onions, bacon and a perfectly ripe California avocado came to mind. Oh, and don’t forget the toasted brioche bun.

Enjoy!

Heather

Turkey Burger. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Turkey Cheeseburger. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

 

Turkey Burger. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Turkey Cheeseburger. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

 

Turkey Cheeseburgers with Caramelized Onions, Avocado, Bacon and Spicy  Aioli

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Filed under Dinner, Heather Platt, Lunch, Main Course, Meat, Poultry