Easiest, Best Pizza Crust

Do you have once a week pizza night in your house? Do you WISH you had once a week pizza night in your house, but are intimidated by the “hassle” of homemade crust?

Worry no more. The simplest, tastiest pizza crust recipe is now available to you. The hardest part about making this recipe is waiting the extra 48 hours for the flavor to develop in the bulk ferment in the fridge. But if you have the patience to wait three full days for your pizza (yes, anticipation IS part of the flavor) your dinner will taste high calibre even if you’re simply using up leftovers from your fridge to top your ‘za. So, for the sake of your tastebuds, try and give this dough the full time to “grow” into itself.

Another perk of this recipe is there’s flavor without the fuss of sourdough. All this batch of dough needs is 1 gram of yeast. That’s it. The rest of the flavor comes from natural yeasts in the air, and time.

I mean, just look at this beauty after she’s been partitioned into individual bowls and left to come into her own:

1 gram of dry yeast later…

Add some of your favorite toppings while your oven sits at 550°F and bake for 8 minutes. And boom! Hearth-fire-style pizza, right at home. Date night with your Other just got a little bit better.

can you eat a whole ‘za?

But why trust a picture? This cheap project yields handsome rewards. Besides, there’s a pandemic. You’ve got nothing but time! (Sorry, sorry…too soon? …it might be too soon.)

I topped my most recent pizza with a few hearty spoonfuls of ricotta, fresh basil and red sauce, ground Italian sausage, and a generous crack of fresh pepper. Needless to say, there were no surviving pieces to enjoy for lunch the next day.

Simple Three Day Pizza Dough

food52
Based on this recipe from food52.
Prep Time 10 mins
Total Rise time 1 d
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian

Ingredients
  

  • 500 grams bread flour
  • 16 grams fine salt
  • 1 gram active dry yeast
  • 1.5 cups water

Instructions
 

  • Whisk together bread flour, salt, and yeast.
  • Add the water and mix with a wooden spoon, spatula, or your hand until just combined, being careful not to overmix. Once mixture is combined, lightly flour a countertop and knead for several minutes to remove clumps. Dough should easily come together in a ball.
  • Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit at 24 hours at room temperature, undisturbed. It should bubble and roughly double in size.
  • Lightly flour a large cutting board or your kitchen countertop and place the dough on it. Divide dough into 4 equal portions for 10 inch pies.
  • Place the dough balls into oiled, airtight containers or small bowls covered in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for another 48-96 hours.
  • Remove from the fridge at LEAST 1 hour before use to allow the dough to come to room temperature. This lets the gluten relax and allows you to more easily shape the dough into a disc for baking.
  • To make pizza, preheat the oven to 550°F while the partitioned dough is coming to room temperature from the fridge. Place a pizza stone, flat baking sheet, or cast iron in the oven to preheat while you stretch the dough into a flat shape. Place onto a pizza peel or another flat baking sheet with a fine dusting of rice flour or cornmeal, so the dough can freely slide off and into the oven. Add desired toppings, and bake for 8 minutes, or until browned and bubbling. Let rest at least 1 minute before cutting.
Keyword active dry yeast, chewy crust, crust, dough, natural yeast, pizza, pizza crust, pizza dough

Basic Tomato Soup with Herb Puree

What better way to kick off soup season than with that old fan favorite, tomato?

A truly great sendoff for even the most overripe of tomatoes, this vibrant soup is the perfect backdrop for cream, yogurt, grilled cheese, crackers, croutons, etc…but can also stand on its own.

Stewed, reduced tomatoes become a medium of sweet, tangy umami. Add some sautéed onions, some fat, and some time: and boom, you’ve got a delicious–and beautifully simple–soup.

these poblanos needed to get used up, so i threw them into the soup to stew before pulverizing everything in the blender.
broiled on high for about 5 minutes, these poblanos were easy to stem, seed, and chop

I cooked the tomatoes with sautéed onions and roasted poblanos in olive oil until some of the tomato juice had reduced, about 30 minutes.

i kept the heat between medium and medium-low to avoid scorching the tomatoes

After pureeing the cooked veggies in a blender and tasting to season with salt and pepper, I decided to get to work on the herb puree.

This puree became sort of a catchall for herbs and greens I already had on hand, so many substitutions or omissions could be made in terms of the greenery–after all, not everyone saves their carrot tops for just such an occasion!

ingredients: basil, parsley, carrot tops, fresh garlic, capers, an anchovy, olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice and salt

This puree integrates beautifully into this simple soup and offers an aromatic freshness to the buxom flavor of stewed tomatoes. Needless to say, I ate this bowl of hot soup straight from the blender within minutes.

the herb puree to tomato soup ratio is entirely up to the eater–fun!

Basic Tomato Soup with Herb Puree

Serves 4

Soup

  • 10-12 medium tomatoes, stemmed and cut into 1” chunks
  • 3 medium poblano peppers
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 Tbs + 4 Tbs olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Herb Puree

  • 1 bunch parsley, stems removed
  • 1 bunch carrot tops
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 Tbs capers, drained
  • 1 anchovy filet
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ c quality olive oil + more as needed
  • Salt, to taste

Roll poblano peppers in first measurement of oil and place on a baking sheet. Broil in the oven on high until skins are blistered and charred, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside until cool.

Add second measurement of olive oil to a heavy bottomed pot with salt, pepper, and onions. Sautee until onions over medium heat until they are translucent and tender, 10-15 minutes. Add cut tomatoes and turn heat to medium low, stirring occasionally to prevent the tomatoes for sticking. You are looking for some of the liquid to be reduced, about 30 minutes.

While tomatoes are stewing, remove the stem and seeds from the roasted poblanos. Dice the peppers and add to the cooking tomatoes.

After 30 minutes has elapsed and soup is of desirable thickness, puree everything in a blender or food processor until smooth. 

Set soup aside in a large, preheated serving bowl. Combine all of the ingredients into the rinsed out blender or food processor and puree until smooth. You may require more than ½ c olive oil to achieve this, depending on the size of the herb bundles.

Serve the soup hot with a generous scoop of herb puree, or yogurt, or both. Croutons or grilled cheese are advisable. 

Simple Chickpea Ricotta Pasta

Are there things in your pantry that you tend to hoard? How about cans and dry goods that sit on the shelf for months at a time?

For me, one of those items is pasta. It’s hard for me to say “no” to a new experience, especially one costing only a few bucks–so when I pass by a new shape or brand of imported pasta in the grocery store, it usually ends up in the cart.

When the pandemic first started, like many people, I stocked up on nonperishable foods. This, coupled with a frankly obsessive amount of time spent scrolling through the New York Times’ cooking app, yielded some fruitful results, alerting me to recipes which I will no doubt be riffing off of for years to come. This is one of those recipes.

This dish is simple, so if one makes too many substitutions in terms of ingredients, it’s essentially a new dish–that being said, it could be made gluten-free by subbing wheat-alternative noodles. I have yet to come across a vegan ricotta substitution out there, unless one were to spring for some vegan cream cheese and whip it up with a dash of sugar.

But if you are a full-time or even part-time dairy eater, I say go for it and eat the dang ricotta! It’s a truly remarkable, natural compliment to pasta of any sort.

This recipe is great for easy weeknight dinner, or for a meat-free meal. Makes for an excellent lunch, also.

one item i’ve tucked away: squid ink pasta…

Cook the pasta in heavily salted water until al dente. While that’s boiling, “bloom” the red pepper flakes along with a few cloves of garlic in a skillet with olive oil. Once the oil starts to change color and become fragrant, add drained chickpeas and sauté for a few minutes, until chickpeas are coated in spiced oil and warmed through.

Add cooked noodles, ricotta, some reserved pasta water, and a splash of quality olive oil to the pan and mix.

I added some cherry tomatoes–the last of the season!

Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and torn basil, adding salt and pepper to taste.

this made for a very satiating fall lunch

Simple Chickpea Ricotta Pasta

Serves 2

  • 8 oz pasta, or enough for two servings
  • 3 Tbs olive oil for sauteeing, plus 1 Tbs for final assembly
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/3 c ricotta cheese
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • ½ small lemon, for final assembly
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves, torn, for final assembly
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, 8-12 minutes. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water and drain. 

In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the first measurement of olive oil and red pepper flakes until the pepper has “bloomed” in the olive oil, about 2 minutes. (Oil should change color and become fragrant.) Add smashed garlic cloves and lower heat to medium, cooking just until they begin to lose their pearly white look, about 3 minutes. Add drained chickpeas and halved tomatoes and stir, coating everything in oil over heat for 3-5 minutes, or until the garlic has changed from white to translucent beige. 

Change heat to low and add drained pasta, ricotta, a squeeze of the half lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Add remaining 1 Tbs olive oil and stir everything together.

Plate with torn basil leaves and serve immediately. Pairs excellent with a buttery white wine or plain bubbly water, whichever you prefer.

Sesame Beet Salad

One of my favorite things in this world is enjoying a perfectly cooked beet. (Can I get a show of hands for all you beet lovers out there?) Over the years of cooking beets, I have come to love the messy endeavor of processing them, from staining my hands magenta to turning the bottom of my sink into a kind of Pollock painting.

If I were to ever create a manifesto, I think it would probably have to include a clause about the importance of avoiding overcooking one’s beets. (If this has ever happened to you, you have probably realized what a tragedy this is.)

Beets are humming with vitality, from their color to their natural sugars and minerals. They can be both refreshing and comforting, placed in both sweet and savory contexts. While I love each and every vegetable I’ve ever put into my mouth (except maybe turnips, which I am still learning to love), I have to say that I think beets may be my favorite.

In an effort to welcome in the cold weather and simultaneously give a nod to the last wave of summer, I dreamed up this recipe one morning over a warm cup of coffee. Simple, fresh ingredients, variety of texture and flavor, maximum nutrients. I’m pretty happy with this side dish–and, it paired wonderfully with the ginger miso glazed halibut I had for dinner.

i didn’t end up using the ginger, but if you’re looking for a little bit of spice, i recommend grating it very fine and tossing it raw into the warm beets

The beets were trimmed, wrapped individually in foil, and placed in a shallow water bath, otherwise known as a “bain marie.”

i like to bake my beets so that they are still slightly firm; they taste more “alive” this way. for these medium-sized beets, this took just over an hour.

While the beets were baking, I cut my carrots into matchsticks and soaked them in vinegar for a “quick pickle,” sliced my scallions, and toasted my sesame seeds.

once cooked to my liking, i ran the beets under cold water, peeled the skins off, and cut them into strips

The drained carrots were tossed into the beets crumbled feta cheese and the other add ins, and the whole thing was finished with a drizzle of sesame oil and a squeeze of lime.

earthy and fresh, this dish felt light, comforting, and nutritious.

Sesame Beet Salad (GF)

  • 3 medium sized beets
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • ¼ c white wine vinegar
  • ¼ c rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp white sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 tsp black sesame seeds
  • 1 oz feta cheese
  • 3 scallions, sliced 
  • 2 Tbs sesame oil
  • Juice of ½ lime

Preheat oven to 450°F. Wash beets and trim both ends with a knife. Wrap each beet individually in foil and place in a baking dish with roughly two inches of water in it. Bake beets for an hour and 15 minutes or so, or until a fork can be inserted with minimal resistance the full length of the prong.

While beets are baking, place carrot matchsticks and both vinegars into a small bowl until the carrots are submerged. Leave them at least 30 minutes, but closer to an hour is ideal. 

In a small pan over medium low heat, heat white sesame seeds until they just start to take on color and emit a pleasant odor, about 5 minutes. Mix warm toasted sesame seeds with black sesame seeds in another small bowl and set aside.

When beets have finished cooking, carefully unwrap them in the sink and run cold water over them until they are cool enough to handle. The skin should easily come off in your hands, but some will be more difficult to peel than others. Don’t be afraid to use a knife to cut off any stubborn bits. 

Once cool, cut beets into strips about 1/4” thick and place in a medium bowl. Drain carrot strips and add to the bowl along with sesame seeds, sliced scallions, and crumbled feta cheese. Finish with sesame oil and lime juice. Pairs great with white fish for a full meal.

A Take on Tom Douglas’ Creamy Seafood Chowder

Think about it: when was the last time you had a really delicious clam chowder? Can you picture where you were when you ate it? What was the weather like? Who were you with? What was it about the flavors in the soup that worked for your palate? Did you make it from scratch or were you dining out?

While the word “chowder” becomes something of a catchall for a conceptual bracket of “soup,” there exist many specific styles of approaching this comforting dish. Wikipedia touches on eight or nine clearly delineated versions of “clam chowder,” each with its own personality; in 1939, just five years after clam chowder reached notoriety in the United States, Maine’s state legislature took its clam chowder identity so seriously, it was posed that the use of tomatoes in the stuff ought to be banned. (Fortunately for Mainers and tomato-lovers alike, this motion did not pass.)

But something that unifies even those variants of “chowder” which hang on the periphery is the fact that sitting down to eat a bowl is usually something of an event. Whether taking a boardwalk stroll and eating from a cardboard cup or settling in on a wintry night for an intimate meal, clam chowder marks a momentous moment. How often does one casually have clams in their fridge, after all?

it’s safe to say I’ve been wanting to make this soup for years

Making this soup successfully is all about prep and timing.

chopped potatoes and thick cut bacon, and disassembled crab

First, the minced onion, carrot, celery, and fennel are sautéed in a modest amount of olive oil until they start to turn translucent and soft. Add garlic and bacon, cooking until the fat of the bacon becomes clear, but doesn’t brown. Add wine, tomato puree, fish stock, and potatoes and simmer…

it already tasted amazing at this stage

When potatoes are just tender, stir in cream, herbs, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Rather than chopping thyme as Tom Douglas suggested, I tied a few sprigs in a bundle with the stems from my parsley leaves and dropped that in the pot.

seafood goes in next, and the pot gets covered to steam thoroughly

Then the assembly line of seafood goes: clams, shrimp, cod, and crab, in that order, accompanied by handfuls of hearty spinach. Add an optional squeeze of lemon, garnish with fennel fronds and cream of some kind, if you like (I used about 1 Tbs creme fraiche) and eat with good company.

don’t forget those herbed scones!
the table went quiet as we ate–a sign of success!

A Take on Tom Douglas’ Creamy Seafood Chowder

Author’s note: Tom advises us to heat the bowls before pouring the chowder in, and don’t forget the herbed scones!

Soup

  • 3 tablespoons 
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ bulb of fennel, cored and finely chopped
  • 5 medium cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 cup thick cut bacon
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 cups canned tomato puree
  • 5 cups ham hock stock or fish stock
  • ¾ pound thin-skinned potatoes, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme or 4 large sprigs of thyme, tied in a bundle
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste
  • 1 lb small steamer or baby clams, scrubbed and rinsed
  • 1 lb large shrimp, shelled and deveined, with tails on
  • ½ pound white fish fillets, such as halibut, cod, etc, cut into 1½ inch pieces
  • 8 cups loosely packed spinach leaves (about 12 ounces)
  • 3 cooked king crab legs (1-1½ pounds), thawed if frozen, each leg cut into 3 sections crosswise and split in half lengthwise OR 1 previously cooked Dungeness crab, disassembled with meat reserved

Finish

  • ½ lemon
  • Sour cream or crème fraiche (optional)
  • Fennel fronds 
  • 12 parsley scones and butter (optional)

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the fennel, onion, celery, and carrot and sauté until the vegetables start to turn translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and bacon and sauté a few more minutes, until bacon fat turns clear rather than white, but does not brown. Stir in tomato puree, wine, stock, and potatoes, and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover the pot and cook until the potatoes are just tender, about 12 minutes. 

Stir in the cream and herbs, season to taste with salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Add the clams, cover the pot, and cook until they open, about 4 minutes. Season the shrimp and fish with salt and pepper, then add them to the pot, taking care the seafood is submerged as much as possible in the simmering liquid. Cover and simmer for 2 more minutes. Open the lid, stir in the spinach. Cover and continue to simmer for 1 minute. Add cooked crab meat, turn off the heat and let the pot sit, covered, for 5 minutes. 

Remove the lid and check that the shrimp and fish are cooked through and that the crab is warm. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Using a slotted spoon and ladle, divide all the fish, shellfish, and chowder among 6 large shallow soup plates, discarding any clams that have not opened. Garnish with a squeeze of lemon, a spoonful of crème fraiche, yogurt, or sour cream, and/or fennel fronds. 

Herbed Spelt Scones

Fall is decidedly here in the Pacific Northwest, but that hasn’t stopped folks from lining up in the rain to snatch up warm treats from the bakery. I find myself dreaming of what to bake even on my days off, which I suppose is further evidence that autumn has arrived.

This has prompted me to read through my cookbooks as I wonder how best to kick off the coming dark months of indulgent holiday festivities and great eating–but after procuring a fish head and trimmings from a wild caught salmon fished within 20 miles of my house, I needn’t look any further for cooking inspiration.

Last night, I made Julia Child’s fish stock, simmering the fish remains gently for about an hour with a few select aromatics. As the stock grew into itself in the pot, I thought eagerly of the chowder that it is destined to become.

As the stock simmered on the stovetop gently, I leafed through a Tom Douglas cookbook (one of my favorite “big time” chefs) until my eye was caught by a savory scone recipe which he cultivated specifically to accompany seafood chowder.

After yesterday’s deluge, the crisp fall air gave way to a bright, sunny morning, and I knew today was the perfect day to tackle those scones.

chives, parsley, and lemon zest lighten up the hearty spelt flour

I snipped my herbs and zested the lemon as sunshine poured in the window. There are few scents that bring me as much genuine pleasure as that of a freshly zested lemon.

butter gets sanded into flour w salt, sugar, and rising agents, followed by herbs and lemon
dry ingredients meet buttermilk–mix gently and attentively, and not too much!

The break in stormy weather provided such sweet relief today, I even made it out into the garden after shaping my scones to harvest some late flowers. Not a bad way to spend my day off, to tell the truth.

baked at 400°F for 20 minutes, these beauties filled the house with an enticing aroma

We’ll see if I can save some for chowder later…

based off Tom Douglas’ recipe, you know these scones are a surefire hit

Herbed Spelt Scones

Adapted from Tom Douglas’ recipe from “Tom’s Big Dinners”

Yields 12 scones

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ c spelt flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked pepper
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 10 Tbs cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 ½ tsp lemon zest (about ½ lemon)
  • 2 Tbs + 1 tsp snipped fresh chives
  • 1/3 c freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 c buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400°F. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, pepper, baking powder and soda into a large bowl. 

Once incorporated, cut butter into dough using a pastry cutter or your fingers until it appears coarse and sandy.

Stir in herbs and lemon zest.

Add buttermilk and gently mix using a rubber spatula, a wooden spoon, or your hands until dry ingredients are incorporated, being careful not to over mix. Dough should feel wet and slightly pillowy.

Dust a flat surface with more spelt flour. Divide the dough into two balls, transferring on ball to the floured surface. Flatten the ball into a flat disk, dusting the top with flour if necessary, until it is about ¾” thick.

Cut into 6 equal triangular pieces, then repeat with second dough ball. Bake 20-30 minutes. Enjoy with butter and a glass of herbed cucumber water.

Spicy Sesame Chard with Salty Tempeh Bites

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I really crave tempeh.

I am a sane enough person to realize that that can seem like an absurd statement, but hear me out.

Have you ever tried a plant-based diet? (Cool, thanks for trying! If not, why not? Would it kill you to try? 😉 ) Have you ever had baked tofu cubes with edges so crisp and caramelized and perfectly seasoned, you’d even prefer them to meat? If that doesn’t sound absurd to you (and maybe especially if it does), read on, bold omnivore!

I got home from my shift at the bakery the other morning fretting about my garden. The last of my tired chard plants have been dutifully toiling to produce several, perfect, tender leaves in their final push of the season. This is not to say they have not had a long and prolific career. My chard, gifted to me in the form of seeds by a lovely friend, has provided me with many, many leaves. We’ve had a good run this year, chard and I.

The first time I ate chard, I distinctly remembered thinking that it tasted even dirt-ier than dirt itself. I chewed without pleasure, thinking “Who would voluntarily eat this?”

Obviously many lifetimes have eclipsed since then, and I have to attribute any advancements in my palette to my foresighted mother. (Thanks, Mom.)

The point is, I’ve really come a long way with this vegetable. From obligation to enjoyment, there are many miles to span and many bridges to cross. I’ve given this leafy green a chance many times when I didn’t feel up to the challenge, and over time I found merit and reward in the trying. By now, I even crave the vegetable from time to time and its robust, earthy flavor.

So I knew this final harvest deserved a little special something. A final bow, if you will, before winter digs in and this fruitful little plant dies away. She deserved to be the star of the show, and I figured her cast ought to be entirely made up with vegetables.

First, I harvested and washed the tender baby chard.

Then, I gathered the necessary ingredients, chopped my tempeh and chard and sorted the chard pieces into piles of “mostly stems” and “mostly leaf,” assembled my marinade, and zipped the cut tempeh in a bag to rest for 30 minutes.

I roasted the tempeh with half of the marinade until the edges turned crispy in the pan, then sautéed the chard, stems first, in sesame oil and chili flakes. Simple and flavorful, this recipe could easily be adapted to serve two, with another handful of chard. If you are looking to flesh out the meal, consider serving your favorite grain or rice noodles alongside.

garnished with fresh cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and a dollop of coconut cream–do not miss out on the coconut cream!!!

Spicy Sesame Chard with Salty Tempeh Bites

Serves 2

The Sauce

  • 3 Tbs light sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 Tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs sweet chili sauce or sriracha
  • 1 Tbs sesame oil
  • ½ tsp honey
  • ¼ lime, juiced
  • 1 medium garlic clove, pressed, minced, or grated with a microplane zester
  • 0.5 oz ginger (about 1” long), peeled with a spoon and minced or grated with a microplane zester

The Plate

  • 1 8oz package tempeh, cut into ½”-1” chunks
  • 10 oz rainbow chard, washed
  • 2 Tbs sesame oil
  • 1-2 Thai chilis, chopped, or 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 Tbs water
  • 1 3-fingered pinch of salt
  • ¼ c fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tbs coconut cream (garnish, 1 Tbs per dish)
  • Sesame seeds (garnish)
  • Squeeze of fresh lime (about 1/8th of a lime)

Cut tempeh into ½”-1” chunks. Using a small saucepan, steam for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, assemble the sauce. Mix all ingredients in a jar or liquid measuring cup, tasting for seasoning. Set aside.

Drain tempeh and let cool a few minutes. Place tempeh in a quart-sized zip top bag with sauce, and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, flipping the bag over after 15 minutes have passed. When you flip the bag for the second 15 minutes, preheat the oven to 425°F.

Wash chard and cut into bite-sized pieces (about 1” long) and separate the stems from the leafy cuts. Set aside.

Assemble tempeh in an oven-safe baking dish, making sure none of the pieces are touching. Pour half of the marinade over the tempeh. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add second measurement of sesame oil to a large skillet, set over high heat. Sprinkle in chopped Thai chili or red pepper flakes and “bloom” in the hot oil, about one minute. Add chard, stems first, lowering to the temperature to medium-low. Stir until the stems are coated in oil (about 30 seconds) then add 3 Tbs water and immediately cover. Steam undisturbed for 3 minutes, or until the stems begin to change color and turn tender. Add chopped leaves and toss with tongs until they are coated with the spiced oil, seasoning with salt as you do so. Cover again and steam for one minute. Remove lid and stir. Steam until the water has cooked out, and the leaves have reached desired “doneness.” Remove from heat and cover with a lid to keep warm.

After 10 minutes of baking, pull tempeh and flip the pieces over using tongs or a spatula. Return to the oven and bake another 10 minutes. You are looking for caramelization on the edges and acquisition of color on each tempeh cube. 

When tempeh has finished baking, pull from the oven and add the remaining marinade to the hot dish. You may have darkened bits of cooked sauce around the tempeh. Stir the tempeh around to coat with fresh marinade and let rest while you plate the chard.

Using tongs, pull chard from skillet, allowing any excess water or oil to wick off. Place onto two plates, adding tempeh chunks and any desired residual marinade. Plate with 1 Tbs coconut cream on each dish, fresh cilantro, sesame seeds, and a squeeze of lime.

Slightly Savory Rye Plum Pie

Well, it’s my “Sunday” today. Which means, of course, that I had to go to the farmer’s market over the “weekend” before heading back to “work.”

I don’t even want to tell you how much of my paycheck I drop on fresh produce.

While I bravely abstained from buying another “happy” local chicken, I definitely ended up purchasing some mushrooms “by mistake.” Oysters. Plus, the kindly mushroom vendor slipped in a king trumpet, on the house! I’ve got the beginnings of a mushroom charcuterie board over here…but I don’t want to get any harebrained ideas. I’ll just stick to sautéing them in butter and pouring them over grains, meat, or pasta like everyone else.

After recently making plum preserves out of some of the most beautiful empress plums I have ever beheld, I’ve been feeling, well, really into plums.

Be honest with yourself: when was the last time you really savored biting into a plum? That tender, juicy, incredibly sweet flesh coupled with a tangy, sour exterior? And that frosted purple skin? I mean, come on! Nature’s just laughing all the way to the bank with that one.

Or at least, the fruit vendors are every time I come around…I snagged some grapes as I was checking out like someone might snag a candy bar at the grocery store. Sugar is sugar, I guess.

I pondered what to make of these gorgeous darlings for a while before finally settling on pie. But to make things a little more interesting, I decided to bring rye flour to the party.

If the thought of rye flour makes you sweat, or you’d rather not buy a $30 bag of flour to use once and never again, substitute for whole wheat or all-purpose flour. I chose rye for its aromatic, slightly nutty qualities. Getting a whiff of this pie as it’s coming into life in the oven is a true treat, and gives your senses something to ponder until it’s time, at last, to eat.

you can use orange or lemon juice in the fruit filling. i wanted to really taste the plum in my pie, but feel free to throw in 1/2-1 tsp fresh zest. (this cutting board made by my talented boyfriend <3)

First, I mixed up the dough using equal parts rye and all-purpose flours, salt, a little sugar, butter, and water. This I let chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

I then washed the plums and cut them into uneven chunks (I like a little variety in each slice). I tossed these in a bowl with sugar, vanilla paste, orange juice, and a pinch of salt.

I rolled out half of the chilled dough on a floured surface. The rye flour makes this crust a little more prone to breaking than straight all-purpose flour, so I rolled the thin crust in my rolling pin and eased it over the pie plate.

dot with about 4 tbs butter

I got a new rolling crinkle cutter toy from the kitchen store, and was very excited to put it to use!

I used the scraps from the pie to make a galette with the leftover plum jam from last week! 🙂 don’t be afraid to freeze your dough in a moisture-proof zip top bag if you don’t want to be swimming in desserts.

Paint your beautiful, beautiful pie with egg wash, then it’s off to the races! Your home is about to smell amazing.

i put a baking sheet under the baking pie so falling drops of syrup didn’t burn and smoke my roommates out.
may or may not have eaten pie for breakfast

Use up these plums while they’re around, people! Your taste buds will thank you, and so will your local source.

Slightly Savory Rye Plum Pie

Serves 12

Crust

  • 1 ½ c all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ c rye flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 c butter (two sticks)
  • ½ c + 1 Tbs cold water

Plum filling

  • 2 lbs plums, cut into varying sized chunks (skin on)
  • 1/3 c brown sugar (light or dark)
  • ¼ c all-purpose flour or white rice flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice or orange juice
  • 1 three-fingered pinch of salt
  • 4 Tbs butter, for dotting the top of fruit

Assembly

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Splash of heavy cream (optional)
  • 1 Tbs finishing sugar, like demerara, turbinado, or another large-crystal sugar
  • 1-2 pinches large flaked salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix dry ingredients for crust in a large bowl with a fork or a whisk. Cut butter into small chunks and incorporate with a pastry cutter or with your fingers. (Alternatively, use a cheese grater on its largest “setting” to break butter into small, uniform pieces and mix into the flour.) Add the water ¼ cup at a time and mix with your hands until dough comes together. Divide dough unto two even pieces, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge at least 20 minutes.

Cut plums into chunks of desired size, leaving the skins on, and place in another large bowl. Add brown sugar, flour, vanilla, fruit juice, and salt, and mix gently with your hands or a spatula or wooden spoon. Let the fruit juices sit in the sugar at least 10 minutes.

Roll out half of dough while fruit is macerating. Line a shallow pie dish, and add fruit when 10 minutes have passed, scraping out all the juice and sugar from the fruit bowl with a spatula. Dot the fruit with second measurement of butter, evenly distributing over the surface. Roll out second half of dough and place over the top of the fruit, creating a lattice if desired. Pinch the edges of the two pieces of rolled out dough together until a recognizable outer crust forms. (Alternatively, crimp edges with a fork and cover with foil, leaving the center of the pie uncovered.)

Beat egg in a small bowl and add cream, if using. Using a pastry brush, spread egg mixture over the top crust, coating all visible surfaces. Sprinkle finishing sugar over the crust and optional salt.

Bake 45 minutes-1 hour, tenting with foil for the last 20 minutes if desired to prevent crust from getting too dark. If you are worried about the pie bubbling over and sending molten sugar to burn on the bottom of your oven, place a cookie sheet underneath the pie tin. You want the fruit filling to bubble in order to cook the flour; this ensures the insides of your pie will thicken and set. 

Let the pie cool at least 20 minutes before cutting into it. Enjoy with plain coconut milk or goat milk ice cream, whipped cream or coconut cream, yogurt, or sour cream or sweetened with a touch of honey.