Category Archives: Side

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

Adventures in Himalayan Salt Block Cooking: Peach and Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops with Summer Corn Salad

Peach and Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops with Summer Corn Salad. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Peach and Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops with Summer Corn Salad. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

A few years ago, on Christmas morning, my sister handed me a rather heavy gift. Inside was a beautiful pink slab of what looked like marble. This is embarrassing, but I had no idea what it was. “It’s a Himalayan salt block!” Naturally. My sister announced, proud of her creative yet relevant gift idea.   And as much as I loved the look and idea of this gorgeous pink block, I’m ashamed to say, it has been sitting in my pantry the ever since. Every so often she would ask, “Have you used that salt block we gave you?” Wide eyed and so excited to hear how it had worked out.  I would shamefully promise, “Not yet. But I will!”

The truth is that I have been intimidated. I consider myself well-versed on the subject of kitchen equipment. I thought from my experience in restaurants that I knew  all there is to know about what an ambitious home cook should have or covet for their own kitchen.  But sure enough, my over-achieving, brilliant, multitasking, genius-of-a-sister had to find the one cooking tool I’d never heard of. The other problem was that, at the time, there wasn’t much information on salt blocks out there. I couldn’t even find a recipe on the internet. More recently, they seem to be growing in popularity and cookbooks are being published on how to use the stunning pink blocks. Not to mention that, a few weeks ago, my sister sent me an email with dozens of links to salt block recipes. God she’s good. I no longer had an excuse. It was time to break in this beauty. I should have done it sooner because the results have been marvelous.

I started out with shrimp, which was incredible! And then moved on to the beloved pork chop. The block gave the chops a beautiful dark crust and a moist, perfectly tender middle. If you don’t have a salt block, don’t worry, you can still make the below pork recipe using a grill or cast-iron skillet. I recommend serving it with a simple summer corn salad and gin gimlets to drink!

Enjoy!

Heather

 

Peach and Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops with Summer Corn Salad. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Peach and Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops with Summer Corn Salad. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

My beautiful friend Elena capturing the moment. Photo Credit:  Heather Platt

My beautiful friend Elena capturing the moment. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Peach and Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops with Summer Corn Salad
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Filed under Dinner, Heather Platt, In Season, Lunch, Main Course, Meat, Salad, Side, Summer

The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook: Kale Salad with Asian Peanut Dressing

The VT farm table cookbook 3mbb

Kale Salad with Asian Peanut Dressing. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Kale Salad with Asian Peanut Dressing. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Amee Farm Organic Kale. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Amee Farm Organic Kale. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Amee Farm. Pittsfield, Vermont. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Amee Farm. Pittsfield, Vermont. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

A few months ago, I received an exciting email from a woman named Tracey Medeiros. Tracey lives in Vermont and is a freelance food writer, food stylist,  recipe developer and tester. She is quite frankly, my dream job personified.  She had  found me  on the internet and, noticing that I’m a food-oriented person from Vermont, asked  if I would like a copy of her latest cookbook The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook.  Once my palpable envy of her career/life  subsided, I responded with an obvious and extremely grateful “YES and thank you!” The truth is that I already owned her first  wonderful cookbook Dishing up Vermont. It was one of those cookbooks that I’d flipped through over and over again. The charming pictures of Vermont farm animals, inns, restaurants and the beautiful dishes it’s chefs had created with the local and seasonal produce, cheese, eggs, meat and poultry would make me hungry and homesick all at once.  When I received The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook in the mail from Tracey’s publicist, it had the same effect on me.  With a strong urge to make hearty winter dishes like Vermont Cheddar Soup, Sauteed Sea Scallops in a Smoked Bacon and Maple Cream Sauce and Amber Ale-Braised Highland Chuck Beef Roast, I ignored the 90 degree weather and the palm trees swaying outside the window of my Los Angeles apartment and headed to my local farmers market. The results,  albeit weather-inappropriate were always delicious.

Now, several months later, I am here in this magical moment in Vermont known as late June. The mountains are more verdant than ever, the buttercups are decorating the fields like yellow sprinkles on a bright green cake, the humid heat of summer has not yet arrived but the cold is long gone. The sun seems like it will never set and a cool breeze makes for restful nights. So what better time to continue cooking from my new favorite Vermont cookbook? And seeing as I was married last weekend here amidst the glory of the green mountains and proceeded to  happily indulge in food (I can’t seem seem to get enough cheese!!) and beverage, it seemed appropriate to eat a salad made of local kale.

Almost of the ingredients for this refreshing and nourishing salad were purchased at the East Warren Community Market in Warren, Vermont. This is my all-time favorite place to buy food. Everything on the shelves is made locally with love and the store is so perfectly curated that the manager once told me that she didn’t carry a certain kind of popcorn because she didn’t like the packaging. The feta I used is from Maplebrook Farms in Bennington, Vermont and I substituted pine nuts for the pepitas.

Enjoy!

Heather

 

Kale Salad with Asian Peanut Dressing. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Kale Salad with Asian Peanut Dressing. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

Massaged Kale Salad with Asian Peanut Dressing

by Tracey Medeiros

serves 4

  • 1/3 cup pepitas (or walnuts or sunflower seeds)
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 bunch green kale, stemmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup Asian Peanut Dressing (recipe follows)
  • 2 small peaches, pitted and diced
  • 2 ounces Maplebrook Farm feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)

Place the pepitas, oil and salt in a medium skillet and toss to coat. Toast over medium heat until the pepitas turn light brown and start to pop, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside on paper towels.

In a large bowl, combine the kale and 1/2 of the dressing. Using your hands, massage the kale until it is bright green and slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes, adding more dressing to taste. Top with the pepitas, peaches and feta. Serve at once.

Asian Peanut Dressing

Makes 1 1/3 cups

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 4 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 4 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar

Whisk together all the ingredients until combined.

Post wedding pics 055

 

maplebrook farm, feta

east warren community market

East Warren Community Market. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

East Warren Community Market. Photo Credit: Heather Platt

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Filed under cookbooks, Dinner, Heather Platt, Lunch, Main Course, Raw, Salad, Side, Vegetarian

Kumquat Fix: Roasted Carrot, Kumquat and Avocado Salad

I’ll admit it. I’m a kumquataholic. This time of year kumquats are bountiful at the restaurant where I work. There’s a giant tub of them in the walk-in refrigerator and the bartender always has a perfect glass cup filled with halves of the adorable little citrus fruits. And whether I’m dressed in a white chef’s jacket helplessly searching for Tat Soy in the walk-in, or up front welcoming guests, the little orange gems are calling to me.  Normally, admitting that you have a habit of taking something that isn’t yours while others aren’t looking is a shameful confession. But with something as irresistible as the kumquat, can you really blame me? And quite frankly, no one does. Especially Farmer Peter Shaner himself, who grows the flawless kumquats we serve at Lucques. So when I saw at my local farmer’s market last week, a bushel of what appeared to be equally delicious looking kumquats, I bought a lot of them. And instead of hurriedly popping them in my mouth for just a moment of undeniable pleasure, I made this salad.

Enjoy!

Heather

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Filed under Appetizer, Dinner, Gluten-free, Heather Platt, In Season, Lunch, Salad, Side, Spring, Vegetarian

Cookbooks: Marc Vetri’s Fennel Gratin

Let’s face it, the holidays are stressful. They also creep up on you out of nowhere and suddenly your next-door neighbor’s house looks like a giant glowing carnival ride, you can’t find a radio station that isn’t playing mind-numbing Christmas carols, and the traffic here in Los Angeles is somehow even worse than it was before, even though I would never have thought that could be possible. And those Christmas jingles certainly don’t help with one’s impending holiday-traffic-induced nervous breakdown. Thankfully, it is easy to soothe the holiday headaches with the warmth, cheer, food and wine of the various holiday parties we end up hosting or attending. And like every holiday, my favorite part about Christmas is the food. But the last thing any of us want, is one more thing to stress about. So if you’re hosting a holiday gathering, or just looking to make a special holiday dinner without too much strain, I recommend making this fennel gratin recipe from Marc Vetri’s new cookbook Rustic Italian Food. It’s simple, elegant and delicious a perfect side dish to whatever you’re making this year.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Heather


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Filed under Dinner, Fall, Heather Platt, In Season, Side, Vegetarian, Winter

Cookbooks: Thomas Keller’s Smashed Roasted Marbled Potatoes with Garlic Confit



This cookbook is really big. Not just big as in famous, but in actual size. It’s a BIG book. It looks marvelous and handsome on a coffee table. In fact, I’ve pined after this book for quite a while.  I’ve found myself, on more than one occasion, in someone’s living room, surrounded by politely mingling well-dressed party guests, siting on a sofa hunched over the coffee table, happily flipping through the pages of this giant book. Only to realize, abruptly, thirty minutes later that I have rudely ignored everyone in the room and failed miserably at any potential networking opportunity that may have presented itself to me. I then rationalize this loss with the fact that I now have Thomas Keller’s recipe for roasted marbled potatoes with garlic confit  memorized. And quite frankly, I can’t wait to go home and make it.

I recently got my hands on my very own copy of this enormous book. My boyfriend is either really sweet, or really hungry for French food. But in any case, I was charmed when I took a closer look and found that this compilation of family-style recipes from his restaurant Ad Hoc was inspired by the kind of meals he makes for his staff to eat at the restaurant. Hearty, classic, delicious feasts for a family, or a family of friends to share together.

Enjoy!

Heather

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Grow Your Own Garden: Orzo Pasta Salad with Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes and Mozzarella


It’s that time of year again, tomato time. I’ve been considering not eating tomatoes during the rest of the year. They don’t taste as good when they’re not in season, and why not save my appetite for the good stuff? I’m feeling particularly fond of the over-abundance of sweet, flavorful  tomatoes that take over our gardens and counter tops during this hot and sunny time of year.  This is my first summer growing my own garden. And the tomato plants are stroking my gardening ego, and making me feel like I’m actually good at this as they’ve grown quickly and heartily into big plump juicy red fruits.

And then the question becomes, what to do with all of these red guys. We had so many tomatoes when I was a kid that my mother made tomato sauce and froze it in dozens of plastic bags to save in our basement freezer for the winter.

Basil

Basil plants like the summer sun too, so to embrace our garden’s  bounty so far, I made a summer pesto pasta salad with orzo, pesto, cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella. This simple and delicious dish is great served hot our cold and is an awesome side to bring to a barbeque or potluck. I served it with grilled trout.

Enjoy!

Heather

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Filed under Dinner, Heather Platt, In Season, Lunch, Main Course, Pasta, Side, Summer, Vegetarian