Cream pies are an American tradition dating back to the early 1800s, when they were invariably served in a flaky pastry crust and topped with meringue—the eponymous “cream” referred to the dairy in their custard filling. I’ve gone over the logic behind that convention before, in my explanation of why I top my chocolate cream pie with meringue rather than whipped cream. This naming convention is exactly why we have both coconut cream pie (creamy custard) and lemon meringue pie (juicy custard), even though each was historically topped with meringue.
Though all but forgotten today, lemon cream pie used to be quite common as well, prized for its gentle acidity and subtle richness. The recipe looked more or less like that for any other lemon meringue pie, but it was made with milk instead of water in the filling. Of course, heat plus acidity and milk sounds like a recipe for cheese, but the sugar, starch, and yolks in the custard work to prevent the milk from curdling. The result is a deliciously creamy pie with a mellow citrus character along the lines of orange sherbet.
While lemon cream pie is a thing of beauty, there’s no lack of lemony options on Serious Eats—we’ve got lemon bars, lemon meltaways, lemon chantilly, lemon sorbet, lemonade, lemon-candied pistachios, lemon syrup, lemon scones, and heck, even lemon spaghetti—so I think it’s time to show limes a little love.
They have a natural affinity for dairy, and give this cream pie a fresh flavor to brighten up any afternoon. Topped with toasty peaks of Swiss meringue and nestled in a whole wheat crust, it’s a dessert that’s ready to give Key lime pie a run for its money.
I start by zesting and juicing the limes, a step that can be knocked out a few days in advance if the juice is refrigerated in a nonreactive, airtight container. Freshly juiced citrus is key for raw applications, but in a cooked custard, that fresh nuance will be lost anyway; since juicing and zesting are the most time-consuming steps of the recipe, this is a great opportunity to break the process up into bite-size tasks.
Regardless of how you time it, after juicing the limes, don’t you dare throw away those rinds! With a scoop of sugar and a few hours of neglect, citrus rinds can be passively turned into a tart no-cook syrup that’s brilliant in cocktails or as a dressing for fresh fruit.
Once the zest and lime juice are prepared, the lime filling comes together much like the one for my chocolate cream pie. Unlike some other stovetop custards, which temper hot milk into a mixture of sugar, cornstarch, and egg, mine combines these ingredients from the start.
Gently warming the mixture over low heat accomplishes the same thing (i.e., warming the eggs without scrambling) as traditional tempering methods, but with less mess and fewer dirty dishes. Once the mixture is warm to the touch, it’s safe to raise the heat and continue cooking and whisking until it’s bubbling-hot.
The whisking part is super important, so make sure you’ve got the right whisk for the job: a balloon whisk for sauciers or a ball whisk for pots with tight corners. When the first bubble appears, continue cooking and whisking for exactly two minutes more.
This isn’t about reaching a specific temperature—the custard will be 212°F (100°C) from start to finish. It’s about holding the custard at boiling heat to denature a starch-dissolving enzyme found in egg yolks. Skip this step or guesstimate the time, and you may wind up with lime soup instead.
When the time’s up, stir in a few drops of rosewater off heat. Thanks to some shared essential oils in their chemical composition, rose and citrus pair like a dream, with the rosewater restoring the sense of freshness that cooking tends to dull in citrus.
Rosewater is easy to find in the international aisle of major supermarkets, in well-stocked liquor or party stores, in Indian markets, or online, so, while it’s technically an optional ingredient, it doesn’t take much effort to step up your game. (It also turns up in my roasted winter strawberries and applesauce.)
Pour the warm custard into a fully baked pie crust (check out my blind-baking tutorial for more info). I like to play up the Key lime pie vibe with the graham-y flavor of my whole wheat pastry crust, as its leaner formula nicely offsets the richness of the lime custard, but it’s still flaky and crispy, just like my old-fashioned all-butter pastry.
Finally, I top the pie with Swiss meringue. Because this style of meringue is fully cooked, there’s no rush to get it on the pie while the custard is still warm (a dubious practice at best; no custard is hot enough to fully cook a meringue on contact). That means you can prepare the meringue and finish the pie at your leisure, without having to race the clock.
To ensure the meringue is stiff enough to pipe, it’s vital to stick to the recipe’s original ingredient ratio and cooking temperature, as low-sugar meringues or those that haven’t been sufficiently cooked won’t hold such stiff peaks. If you’re using toasted sugar left over from blind-baking the pie crust, please, please, please make sure the foil liner covered 100% of the crust. If any part of the crust is exposed, even if it isn’t in direct contact with the sugar, butter can bubble up from the crust and into the sugar. It’s not a lot of fat, but it’s enough to prevent the meringue from holding its shape when piped. Should that happen to you, forget about piping, and stick with old-fashioned swoops and swirls of meringue.
Whatever the style, I recommend baking the pie at 375°F (190°C) to puff and toast the meringue. The slow, gentle heat causes the meringue to expand as it bakes, giving it a lighter consistency than a meringue that’s simply toasted on the surface with a torch. Don’t believe me? Check out the video that accompanies my chocolate cream pie article, and watch the meringue swell as it bakes.
An enjoyable side benefit of piping the meringue is creating more surface area for browning, which balances its sweetness with a bit of toasty caramel complexity.
Cool the finished pie to room temperature, then cover with plastic and refrigerate until it’s no warmer than 60°F (16°C). It’s fine for the pie to be colder—I think it’s best served at 40°F (4°C)—but above 60°F, it’s simply too warm to slice.
Thanks to the whole wheat crust and the super-stable Swiss meringue, the pie keeps well for up to a week in the fridge, so you can enjoy it one slice at a time—the better to make that sunny flavor last over these gloomy winter days.
Making soup means you have some time. Some time and some fire.
Question… what’s going on with this Instant Pot? I’m not interested. I like the time it takes a soup to simmer and soften. Isn’t that time enough to have a glass of wine in the shower? Isn’t it one of life’s great joys? Wine in warm water while dinner slowly simmers away on the stove. I don’t know much…. but that is one of life’s great pleasures and no Instant Soup Thing should take that away from me.
I’m obviously speaking from a very stubborn place. A stubborn place without any tangible information about the Instant Pot. It’s probably lovely. I just like ritual, and shower wine.
I wanted to offer you some soup today. Hearty, robust (I have slight regrets about using this word), simmering comfort – something to prep on Saturday and make on Sunday for next week. Like you’re a thoughtful person to yourself (they’re calling that SELF CARE these days).
The recipe is casual. Feel free to add more or less of anything you’d like. Use dried beans. They’re more delicious, more satisfying and more human. My trick aside from the dried beans is to also add a can of white beans, blended to smooth with a bit of the simmering liquid and cooked beans. This will turn the soup broth to velvet and make you feel like a soup wizard.
This is my offering. Here’s to the weekend!
How To Have A Big Bowl of White Bean, Kale, and Sausage Soup A Few Days From Now
Here’s What You’ll Need:
1 pound of dried cannellini white beans
a bit of olive oil
uncooked spicy or mild sausage – about 2 links of sausage (about half a pound)
a yellow onion
a few cloves of garlic
a green bell pepper – half of the pepper diced for the recipe, the other half sliced for snacking
6 to 8 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper – a bay leaf if you’re feelin’ it
8 to 10 good clean lacitano kale leaves, ribs removed and coarsely chopped
1 (15 ounce) can white cannellini beans
We’ll start by soaking the beans. They’re dried. They need a bit of attention and time alone before they hit the pot.
Place the dried beans in a big ol’ bowl and cover them by several inches with warm water. You’ll think nothing is happening. They’ll wrinkle and look curious. The’ll plump as the start to absorb the water around them. Let the beans be – overnight is best.
Once the beans have had their time, it’s your time to make soup! Hopefully it’s mid afternoon and you have a free hour to yourself. Maybe your love is perched on a stool talking about what you’ll both binge watch later. Either way, pour yourself a cup of tea or an early glass of wine and savor what you get to do in the kitchen for the next bit.
Chop an onion. Small to medium dices. You’ll want about a cup of diced onion total. Scraps and skin and ends – save them for stock
Mince the garlic.
Chop the bell pepper so you have about half a cup for the soup. Eat the rest, reminding yourself that you like bell pepper.
Where’s your large soup pot? The pot you always make soup in? Place it on the stove over medium heat. Add a glug of oil along with the sausage. Cook it up. Break it up. Crank the heat to get a good crisp on the meat as it cooks through. Spoon the meat into a small bowl.
Do you want to drain some of the fat? You can if you’d like. Leave some in the pan. Add the onions and garlic and bell pepper. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Allow to cook down until the onions are translucent, the garlic is fragrant and the peppers have softened.
Add the sausage back to the pan.
Drain the beans and add the beans to the pot, too.
Chicken stock too. Now we’re cookin’ with gas. (I mean… probably. It’s mostly an expression.)
Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to the lowest simmer. Cover the pot and cook until beans are softened. This might take half an hour of so. Plenty of time for a glass of wine in the shower if you’re into that sort of thing. Before you walk away from the stove, give the pot a few watchful minutes to ensure that the simmering mixture doesn’t boil over. Every stovetop and pot is different.
Simmer until beans are soft. You’ll know when the time is right.
Now… in a blender, empty the can of beans – liquid and all.
Ladle in a few scoopfuls of the warm soup – beans and broth. Blend until the mixture is smooth and stir it into the simmering soup! Look how creamy that got! Well done well done!
Add the chopped kale. It will wilt willingly. Taste. Does it need more salt and pepper? Add it. Stir it up.
Enjoy warm for many days to come.
You did great.
When Resy‘s Ben Leventhal, who has been involved in at least five food-related start-ups, speaks about entrepreneurship, I am all ears. Here are just a couple of the pearls of wisdom that came out of our in-depth conversation:
“What I do try to say to people that haven’t been through a couple of cycles is you got to understand how hard this is about to be. People say, ‘Oh, I want to start a company. I want to do that. I want to go out on my own.’ I say, ‘That’s great, but it’s really fucking hard.'”
“It’s gruesome. Every day of a startup is gruesome. If it’s not gruesome, something is wrong. Something is off…Every day is a battle.”
And here’s Ben on putting together a team: “Well, look, I mean, you got to understand that you have to have the long view. You’re building something from scratch. The people that you’re lucky enough to have working with you, the people that take a risk with you, the first ten employees, they’re taking almost as big a risk as you are, and in some cases, they’re taking a bigger risk because they got to trust [you]…That’s really important, and you have to make sure that those people feel almost minute to minute like they made the right choice.”
Ben talks about how he’s applied these hard-earned lessons to Resy, a two year-old start-up that so far seems to have successfully taken on OpenTable, the granddaddy of online reservation systems. How exactly did he and his partners do that? You’re just going to have to listen to find out.
Want to chat with me and our unbelievably talented recipe developers? We’re accepting questions for Special Sauce call-in episodes now. Do you have a recurring argument with your in-laws over the most reliable way to roast a turkey? Have you been struggling to get the right consistency in your Thanksgiving stuffing over the years? Does your brother always turn up with the worst pumpkin pie, and you want to help him make it better? We want to get to know you and solve all your food-related problems. Send us the whole story at [email protected].
Months ago, I may have mentioned that Hugh was doing the ketogenic diet? Surely you’ve heard of it. Most of the cookbooks at my local Costco are keto books so you know it’s mainstream. He humored me and went off it for the holidays and is back to it these days. I refuse to make a third version of whatever I’m cooking, but I will compromise. How saintly of me, right? I have my current granola recipe pretty nailed down, but I gave it a spin with less sweetener and replaced the oats with more nuts. It replaces the carbohydrates with more fat, so I don’t know where your nutrition paradigms lie, but it tastes good either way. You can use this as a topping for plain yogurt, oatmeal, as a snack or I used it as a crunchy bit for a green salad with arugula, red onion, and roasted butternut chunks and thought it worked perfect. I made a few notes below on seasoning options.
NUT’NOLA // Makes about 5 cups
You can find the coconut flakes (the wide shards, not the same as shredded coconut) at Trader Joes, larger conventional grocery stores or Amazon. The kind of nut isn’t as important as the yield. Swap in pecans or macadamia nuts, whatever you prefer. We use this as a breakfast sort of deal, if you want a more savory route, a dash of cayenne and some fresh chopped rosemary is a great swap, or that Everything But The Bagel seasoning from Trader Joes is pretty amazing here too, especially if you want to use these as a crunchy salad topper.
2 Tbsp. coconut oil, warmed
1/3 cup maple syrup
3/4 tsp. sea salt
heaping 1/2 tsp. cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
1 cup raw whole almonds
1 cup raw whole cashews
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp. raw sesame seeds
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes/chips
Preheat the oven to 325′ and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the warmed coconut oil, maple, salt and cinnamon/spice. Stir to combine.
Give the almonds, cashews and walnuts a rough chop. Add them to the maple mixture along with the pumpkin seeds, sesame and coconut flakes. Stir everything to coat. Spread the mixture in an even layer on the baking sheet and pop in the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, stir, bake another 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove to cool completely. The nuts will crisp up as they cool. Store in an airtight container for a couple weeks.
I installed the Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen app on my phone last year, and it was a real eye opener for a few reasons. The app is actually just a simple checklist of ingredients to incorporate in your daily diet – ideally, every day. Beans, berries, spices, nuts, greens, etc. It’s actually not simple. The thing that struck me immediately is the way you need to make every meal (and snack) count if you want to check all the boxes. I found that I needed to have more of a plan than my usual “free-style” approach, as well as an evolved arsenal of go-to recipes. So! The first thing I started doing was incorporating meals that were delicious, satisfying, one-bowl “box-checkers”, like this soup. It’s a fortifying lentil and tomato-based stew, dotted with plump, tender dumplings, spiked with a range of spices, and boosted with plenty of spinach. It’s so delicious, and simple, week-night friendly, and great for leftovers. Also, no shame in using frozen spinach, here. It cuts the already minimal prep time here down to near nothing. Enjoy!
For a vegan version, source vegan tortellini. Or if you have trouble finding that, substitute a vegan ravioli!
4 big handfuls spinach, chopped (or frozen equiv)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
3/4 teaspoon sweet (or smoked) paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
3/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, with liquid
3/4 cup dried red lentils, rinsed
4 cups water
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, plus more to taste
8 ounces / 1/2 pound fresh tortellini
to serve: a bit of grated cheese, lemon (optional)
If you’re using frozen spinach, set it on the counter to thaw a bit. In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or so, until the onion has softened a bit. Stir in the garlic, wait a minute, then add the curry powder, paprika, turmeric, and chile flakes, and stir well. Break up the tomatoes with your hands as you add them to the pot along with the tomato liquid, stir in the lentils, and the water. Cover and allow to cook for 15 minutes or so, until the lentils have cooked through. Stir in the salt, and then the tortellini. Cover and cook for another 3-5 minutes, or per package instructions – until tender and cooked through. Stir in the spinach bring back to a simmer, and serve with a dusting of cheese and a squeeze of lemon juice. If you need to thin out with a bit more water, do so, and re-season. Enjoy!
Prep time: 5 min– Cook time: 25 min
If you were a dim sum cart, what would you see? It’s a question we asked each other idly one afternoon, only to find ourselves increasingly obsessed with uncovering the answer. There’s an element of spectatorship that comes with visiting a bustling dim sum restaurant. You’re surrounded by a blur of constant motion—currents of diners coming and going, dishes being whisked to and fro, and servers with pushcarts threading through it all. But, despite the wealth of sensory input, there are several perspectives diners rarely get to experience. There’s that of the tireless kitchen crew, and of the patient servers. And then there’s the POV of the iconic dim sum cart itself.
For our investigation, we turned to Brooklyn’s Pacificana, which has long been one of our favorite places to get dim sum in New York City. The stellar dumplings are just part of the draw, though—Pacificana is a cavernous, rather glamorous space with a vast menu and a festive atmosphere.
Manager Jimmy Ching was kind enough to let us mount GoPros on multiple carts for several hours during a busy weekday morning. What followed was a whole lot of (mostly literally) steamy footage and a unique look behind the curtain. You can catch it all in the video above. Minus our, ahem, bird’s-eye-view fail. NB: Mounting a GoPro on the ceiling doesn’t always go as planned.
“The Japanese, who are probably the world’s greatest culinary aesthetes, don’t hesitate to serve a greenish-yellow glutinous mess over their rice and label it ‘curry.'” And thus Madhur Jaffrey, in An Invitation to Indian Cooking, cut down Japanese curry with the swiftness of a samurai sword.
To be fair, Japanese curry was just one of her targets. She directed her broadside equally at British, American, Chinese, and French renditions of curry, all of which feature a generic and often stale blend of Indian-esque spices. At the root of her disdain was the question of curry itself, and what it is. That’s a topic worthy of a deeper discussion, but we can briefly say that “curry,” as the term is used outside India, does not have much meaning there. There is no Indian or South Asian spice blend known as “curry,” nor a dish that goes by that name. In the south of India, there’s kari, a saucy preparation that’s often identified as the source of the English word, but, according to Raghavan Iyer in 660 Curries, even that is open for debate.
What we can also say with some certainty is that at some point in the 18th century, the British began to incorporate an Indian-inspired spice blend that they called “curry powder” into their cooking. By 1747, curry had made its first appearance in an English cookbook, Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy. It’s this more generic conception of curry, and the powdered convenience product that fuels it, that leads us back to Japanese curry.
Now, I won’t go as far as Madhur Jaffrey in condemning Japanese curry. She was on a specific mission at a specific time when she tore it down. Her goal was to introduce a more nuanced idea of Indian cooking to people whose familiarity didn’t go far beyond a dusty old spice tin. But, given Japan’s love of its version of curry—or kare, as the Japanese call it—it can’t just be dismissed. It’s one of the nation’s most popular comfort foods, belonging to a class of dishes called yoshoku—Western foods that the Japanese have adopted, and have at times heavily adapted, but still don’t consider to be inherently Japanese. I will admit, though, that I was less than impressed with my first tastes of Japanese curry. To me, they were as perfectly tame as curry could ever be, which is to say, perfectly forgettable.
That changed after I visited the country last year. I’m always out to prove myself wrong, so one of my goals on that trip was to find a Japanese kare that could make me truly love it. My conversion came at a narrow lunch counter called Kitchen Nankai in Jinbocho, a Tokyo neighborhood famous for its bookstore-lined streets. There, the cooks heaped rice and shredded cabbage on a large plate, set a sliced fried pork cutlet on top, then ladled a black lagoon of steaming curry sauce all over it.
It was an entirely different Japanese curry from ones I’d had before: darker, more bitter, and spicier, without the sweet and soft easiness of so many others. It was a curry that made itself known, its chili heat lingering until well after I’d left the restaurant.
I didn’t leave with just burning lips, though. I also left with a new sense of just how much of a range of flavor is possible in Japanese curry without betraying the essence of the dish. I knew I could make my own, from scratch, calibrating the spices exactly as I wanted them and deepening the flavor as much as I pleased.
My mission upon returning home was to make a Japanese curry that had all the classic trappings—tender morsels of meat, chunks of silky potato, sweet bits of carrot, and green peas—in a sauce that was warm and gentle, cradled in a subtle sweetness, but barking with freshly ground spices, edged with bitterness and prickling heat.
The first and most important step in coming up with my own recipe for Japanese curry was to develop a spice mix. My biggest clue came on the side of a tin of S&B curry powder, one of the most popular Japanese brands.
These days, you can buy S&B and other Japanese curry products in a number of forms. The most basic is the spice powder, which requires the home cook to make their own sauce from scratch, save for the spice blend itself. The next level up in weeknight-dinner convenience is trays of the spice blend set in blocks of solidified roux—cook the meat and vegetables, add water or broth, then melt the blocks into it until a thickened, flavorful sauce forms. Beyond that, you can go for full-blown space-food ease in the form of premade curries packed in NASA-style retort pouches: Simply heat, then squeeze the contents, often already studded with cooked vegetables, onto rice. I ate a whole bunch of these in the service of writing this article.
The ingredient list on the tin of S&B was the most enlightening for my endeavor. While it didn’t show exact quantities, it did at least list the spices in order of quantity. I could see that turmeric made up the largest portion of the mix, followed by coriander seed and then fenugreek—the spice used to flavor artificial pancake syrup, famously responsible for New York City’s mysterious maple syrup odor about 10 years ago. As you can see, it’s a spice profile that leans light, floral, and sweet.
Another helpful resource was this breakdown of Japanese curry spices that I found on the Japanese food site Just Hungry. It mostly confirmed what the S&B tin was already telling me, though Just Hungry had found a Japanese-language source with the approximate percentage of each spice used in S&B, which they translated into English. (The link to the original source in Japanese is no longer working.) Those percentages underscored even further just how mild these Japanese spice blends can be, with upwards of 90% of the spices in the mix made up of the mildest ones.
For my blend, I decided to mirror the S&B breakdown only insofar as turmeric was the number-one ingredient, but I punched up the cumin for more funk, added significantly more black pepper for warm heat, and included a more generous dose of chili pepper for more robust spice. Instead of ground ginger, I opted for grated fresh, to deliver far more zip and zest. Beyond that, I rounded it all out with a range of spices and flavorings, from dried orange peel to star anise and cinnamon.
The most important thing to remember about this spice mix is that you don’t need to replicate mine exactly. That’s what’s so great about making your own. You could simplify it by paring down the number of components, or change their proportions to suit your tastes. It’s this customization that makes the homemade version worthwhile. If you’re not interested in that, you might as well grab a tin of the premade stuff off a Japanese-market shelf.
Some recipes for Japanese curry call for cornstarch as a thickener, but many others use a classic roux of flour cooked in butter or another fat. The advantage of a roux is that you can toast the flour to whatever degree you want, altering its flavor more and more the darker it gets. I’m not sure what tricks Kitchen Nankai uses to get their curry sauce as dark as it is, but I suspect a deeply browned roux is one of the keys.
I make my roux in a small pot on the side while the rest of the stew cooks—because this is a stew at heart. Once the flour has reached a deep caramel brown, I add my spice blend. As mentioned above, I dry-toast the spices in a skillet first to deepen their aromas. Frying them in the roux helps develop their flavor even more. Cooking spices in a fat is a technique that’s sometimes called “blooming,” and not only does it make the spice flavor more complex, it also infuses the fat with the spices. That’s a useful step, given that some of the flavor and aroma molecules in spices are fat-soluble.
The final components of the stew are the broth and all the vegetables and meat that go into it. I opted for chicken here, using boneless, skinless thighs, since they handle prolonged cooking much better than the white meat does. You could just as easily use beef, selecting a cut that’s suitable for stewing, or even pork. The basic technique would be largely the same, except for the cooking time, which would be longer for beef or pork.
The first step here is to sear the meat until it’s browned, then transfer it to a plate while you sauté the vegetables. I use a simple combo of diced onion and carrot, leaving out the celery and garlic that often join those aromatic vegetables, since I decided I didn’t want them in this particular dish. There’s no right or wrong here; they’re just not flavors I tend to associate with Japanese curry. (That’s not to say no one in Japan uses them in their curries—I’m sure plenty of people do.)
Once the vegetables are tender and beginning to turn golden, it’s time to add the liquid. Water is one choice, but it’s a missed opportunity to reinforce and deepen flavor. Chicken stock is a better idea, but I wasn’t satisfied with it alone. The holy grail in this dish is a combination of both chicken stock and dashi, which together add a meaty richness and also an unmistakable Japanese essence to the dish. The finished curry doesn’t taste like dashi in any obvious way; it just tastes more Japanese.
At this point, I cut up the chicken and add it back to the pot, along with pieces of potato and finely grated or minced apple. The apple, or another sweet component like it, is something a lot of kare recipes call for, and it’s partly responsible for that accessibly sweet flavor that’s so common to Japanese curry. Given that I had pushed my spice profile in a more aggressive direction, that base note of fruity sweetness was even more important here.
To finish the curry, simply stir in the roux, then simmer until the broth has thickened. Green peas can go in right at the end, just long enough to warm them through. The most popular way to serve it is spooned into a bowl with a generous mound of warm short-grain rice, making what the Japanese call kare raisu, “curry rice.”
Is it real Indian food? Clearly not. But when you take all the components into your own hands, it’s a kare with enough flavor and personality to silence any doubters.
There is an old myth that says you should only eat raw oysters in months that contain the letter “r” (September through April). I personally feel pretty comfortable eating them year-round, but it is true that oysters, plus other bivalves like clams and mussels, are at their best in the colder months. We have 20 recipes to help you take advantage of peak season, from clam chowder two ways and oyster stew to French- and Thai-inspired steamed mussels.
Easy, Ultimate Clams Casino
Clams casino is often disappointingly bland—our recipe builds tons of flavor by cooking the clams’ juices down into a bacon-clam compound butter and topping the stuffed shells with bacon bread crumbs. Make sure to use coarse bread crumbs like panko because finer ones will take on a texture somewhere between wet sand and soggy bread pulp.
New England Clam Chowder
Many New England clam chowder recipes use a flour-based roux as a thickener, which can make the chowder unpleasantly heavy. We use potatoes instead, which gives the chowder a lighter (but still plenty rich) texture. Without a roux the chowder is going to break, but a quick trip to the blender will bring it back together.
Rhode Island Clam Chowder With White Wine and Bacon
New England has the most famous clam chowder, but it’s not the only kind worth considering. Rhode Island clam chowder is made without any dairy, which lets the briny flavor of the clams shine. We have no problem making New England-style clam chowder with canned or frozen bivalves, but here you’re going to want the more intense flavor of live ones.
Miso Soup With Clams
While miso soup almost always starts with a dashi made with bonito flakes, this version from Manhattan’s EN Japanese Brasserie uses asari (Manila clams) instead. The brininess of the clams is perfectly complemented by the funky miso (a mix of light and dark) and vegetal kombu.
Halibut à la Nage With Clams, Dill, and White Wine
Cooking fish à la nage is a versatile technique that involves poaching it in a flavorful broth. We have recipes featuring salmon and cod, but my favorite is this simple dish of halibut and clams cooked with white wine, fennel, and dill. As the clams open they release their juices, giving the broth a delicately briny flavor.
Spaghetti alle Vongole in Bianco
Spaghetti alle vongole is an Italian classic made with garlic, briny clams, white wine, and chili flakes. The dish can be made with or without tomatoes—here we are tackling the tomato-free (in bianco) version. One of our least favorite things about spaghetti alle vongole is dealing with the shells, so we shuck most of the clams before serving.
Korean Clam Sauce
Created as part of a Korean-inspired twist on spaghetti alle vongole, this clam sauce is made with gochujang, kimchi, nori, and fried onions, garlic, and shallots. The fried alliums are easy to find at Asian groceries, but you can also make them at home.
Pizza with Fresh Clams, Garlic, Mozzarella, Romano, and Basil
Most of the famous New Haven pizzerias have started using pre-shucked clams, but at home we recommend using fresh ones—the clams will come out more tender and the pizza will have a better flavor. Beyond the clams we keep this pizza simple: mozzarella, Parmesan, garlic, basil, and chili flakes.
Irish Stout Granita With Raw Oysters
I always think it’s a shame to cook oysters when they are so good raw. Oysters on the halfshell without any accoutrements are already just about perfect, but if you want to add something extra, try serving them with this malty stout granita. We like Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, but any good stout or porter is fine.
If you’re going to cook your oysters, one of the simplest and most delicious methods is to grill them with compound butter—we’ve got parmesan-basil and kimchi varieties for you to try. The flavored butters don’t overpower the oysters, but they do soften their flavor enough to make this a great dish for oyster novices.
Oysters Rockefeller is a classic appetizer made by baking oysters with wilted spinach, Parmesan cheese, garlic, butter, wine, and crunchy breadcrumbs. The secret ingredient is a drizzle of Pernod, which lends the dish a subtle anise aroma.
Oysters Florentine keeps the spinach, Parmesan, white wine, and bread crumbs from oysters Rockefeller and adds cream for extra richness. The spinach topping can be made a day ahead and spooned onto the oysters just before cooking, making this a great dish for entertaining.
Classic Oyster Stew With Fennel
Despite the name, oyster stew is more of a soup—it only takes 20 minutes from start to finish and, thanks to the lack of any flour or pork fat, has a light, clean flavor. Don’t worry, though—whole milk and butter ensure that the dish is comfortingly rich.
Oyster Stuffing With Fennel, Tarragon, and Sausage
Stuffing rarely makes appearances on the dinner table outside of Thanksgiving, but I see no reason not to eat it year-round. My favorite stuffings are made with oysters, which amp up the savoriness of the dish (much like fish sauce or anchovies) without making it overly fishy. Here we use oysters in a sausage stuffing flavored with fennel and tarragon.
Southern Cornbread Dressing With Oysters and Sausage
Oysters are just as good in cornbread dressings as in white-bread stuffings. Don’t bother shucking fresh oysters for these two recipes—once you’ve mixed them with the bread, sausage, fennel, and other ingredients you won’t be able to taste the difference between fresh oysters and the pre-shucked ones you find in pop-top cans.
The Best Moules Marinières (Sailor-Style Mussels)
Steamed mussels are an under-appreciated weeknight dinner—they are fast, inexpensive, and versatile. My favorite preparation is moules marinières, which uses a cider-based broth thickened with butter (the more traditional option) or garlicky aioli (not traditional but totally delicious). Don’t forget to pick up a loaf of crusty bread to dip into the broth.
Steamed Mussels With Thai-Style Coconut-Curry Broth
As a testament to the versatility of steamed mussels, this recipe moves to the other side of the world for inspiration. The technique is basically the same, but we make the broth with coconut milk and flavor it with fish sauce, sliced chilies, brown sugar, and homemade curry paste.
Mussels With Fennel-Saffron Broth
Moving back to France, this recipe is inspired by the Provençal stew bouillabaisse. We incorporate anise flavors three ways: fresh fennel, fennel-flavored dry salami, and a shot of Pernod. Don’t skip the saffron—I know it’s expensive, but you only need a pinch and it adds a wonderful complexity to the dish.
Mussels With Chard and Tomatoes
The only trouble with serving steamed mussels as a dinner is that it’s a pretty light meal unless you eat a lot of bread (which, to be fair, I am happy to do). This recipe adds bulk without turning to carbs by cooking the mussels with peppers, chard, and tomato. If you’re into spice, then a dash of cayenne or chili flakes would be very much at home here.
Mussels With Thai Red Curry Broth and Rice Noodles
We return to Thailand for this recipe, flavoring mussels with red curry paste, coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar. We turn the mussels into a full meal by serving them atop rice vermicelli, which can be prepared by soaking in hot water and therefore keeps the meal super simple.
I was in a bulk food store with my jars in tow and a very typical plan to get some staples like brown rice and spices. I spied dried mulberries on sale out of the corner of my eye and just started thinking about a golden brown tahini granola with mulberries, cacao nibs, and orange. Sweet, sour, wine-y and toasty with a bit of sparkle. I filled one of my one quart jars up. That’s the rather boring genesis of this recipe, but the results are pure magic.
I want to add something about those jars too. I shared that I had brought my own containers to the bulk store on Instagram stories the other day and had SO MANY questions about how that process works. Everyone messaging me seemed very excited about the prospect of a waste-free bulk shopping trip, which in turn got me super excited too. I buy so many things in bulk and the amount of little crappy plastic bags I was using seemed so counterintuitive. I hit up a pretty popular bulk food chain in my neighbourhood, and they are very cool about my minimal waste efforts.
How it works: the first thing you do when you walk in is go right to the cash-out area and ask the cashier to weigh your containers. At my particular store, they wrote the weight on the bottom of each jar with a wax pencil. I had 3 1-quart jars with the exact same lid and they all came in at different weights, so this step is key! Once you have your weighed containers, you shop/fill up everything. Once you’re ready to checkout, the cashier subtracts the recorded weight. Super easy and no need to be intimidated. Also, don’t forget your cloth tote bags for bringing everything home 😉
I am taking those little steps towards minimizing single use items this year. I never put my produce in bags at the grocery store, but kind of had to the other day when I bought loose brussels sprouts (didn’t have enough totes on me to make it work), so some of these bags might be my next purchase. I also used to be the world’s most avid and enthusiastic user of parchment paper, but am trying to give my Silpat more of a workout these days. I know that they sell biodegradable versions of parchment and that often times you can get multiple uses out of one sheet, but I honestly find using the Silpat easier! Might need to pick up one more for multiple trays of roasted veg though 😉 Slow and little steps!
We are heading to Turks and Caicos tomorrow for some warmth and most definitely some quiet and relaxing times. We wanted to go somewhere warm, and lured by the promise of my parents (who have been there so many times) that you can have entire stretches of pristine beach to yourself, we jumped on a seat sale. I’m bringing my bamboo utensil set, stainless steel straw, and Yeti rambler to minimize all traces as much as possible. I’ll probably be posting a teeny tiny bit of the trip on Instagram if you’re interested too. In the meantime, enjoy this classic hippie high vibe bulk shop staple with a few fancy upgrades. Love to you guys!
VERY FANCY TAHINI GRANOLA WITH ORANGE, CACAO & MULBERRIES
Print the recipe here!
SERVES: Makes about 5-6 cups of granola
NOTES: If you don’t like tahini, I would recommend any of the following butters to replace it: raw cashew, hazelnut, walnut or pumpkin seed. If you want to use almond butter, I’d take the orange zest out of the equation.
-This granola will keep in a sealed container at room temperature for up to two weeks.
-I love this granola with coconut milk-based yogurt. The flavour combination just sparkles.
-Tahini brands vary in flavour and quality, which is important to note for this recipe especially. My favourites are by Soom and Shirley Bar Living.
4 cups rolled oats (certified gluten-free oats, if necessary)
½ cup tahini
½ cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup melted extra virgin coconut oil
zest of 1 medium-sized orange
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup large flake coconut
¼ cup raw sesame seeds
½ cup dried mulberries
¼ cup cacao nibs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Place the oats on the prepared baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven and toast the oats for 10 minutes. Once you remove the oats, lower the oven’s heat to 325 degrees F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the tahini, maple syrup, vanilla, coconut oil, orange zest, cinnamon, cardamom, and sea salt. Once you have a gloppy and homogenous mixture, stir in the toasted oats, coconut, and sesame seeds to coat.
Spread the coated oat mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, ensuring the most even layer possible. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until granola is deep golden brown, about 32-35 minutes. Stir and flip the granola every 10 minutes or so.
Once you’ve removed the granola from the oven, stir in the mulberries and cacao nibs while it is still warm. Allow the tahini granola to cool completely before storing in a sealed container.
Here are a few things I know to be true: Split pea soup is never going to win the winter soup Olympics. Its signature hue of mushy pea green will never be prized as fashionable by anyone but the unfashionable likes of me. If you know people who stand up and cheer when they hear that it’s a split pea soup for dinner kind of evening, you know amazing, rare unicorn people I would like to have over for dinner more often. It could be argued that split pea soup doesn’t help its cause by its, ahem, mushy texture that usually solidifies into a brick in a fridge overnight, which is why it surprised me as much as it did that when I mentioned making it — along with this black bread — in this food diary I kept for Grub Street last week, so many people asked me for the recipe.
I had been eating split pea soup for at least half my life before I realized it was not traditionally a vegetarian soup. Growing up, my mom made it from, well, tubes from the grocery store that included the dried peas and a seasoning packet I thought the results were above reproach. The fact that it was usually from Manischewitz probably could have explained the absence of ham hocks, but I don’t like to jump to conclusions or anything.
The times I have made it with ham hocks, I didn’t find it life-changing, for me, it didn’t add enough to be worth changing my usual approach — a solid enough filter for any new recipe decision, you could say — which is a pile of vegetables and aromatics, broth, and split peas, cooked until tender and then pureed in all or part, and generally, if we’re being completely honest here, swiftly rejected by most people in my family for all the reasons lists above.
But I think this most recent version is onto something. A lot of vegetarian split pea soups add potatoes for bulk, but I find it only further mutes a muted soup’s flavor. Instead, I swapped out my usual chopped onion with a few thinly sliced leeks and loved every bit of the results. I kept the carrots and celery, but then, right when I was about to puree the soup I realized somehow for the first time that it might not need it at all? Peas, split, naturally collapse in soup so the texture was already halfway smooth; why nudge it further? I then tried three different finishes. No, I’m not suggesting you need to finish this soup three ways, I just couldn’t decide. The first was a green sauce with parsley, lemon, and garlic, basically a vegetarian gremolata, which usually contain anchovies too. (A salsa verde would be great here too.) Then, a dollop of sour cream. Finally, because I said I didn’t like ham inside the soup but said nothing about on top, we added a bit of crispy bacon in small bits, but I also love it topped with croutons (either gruyere or these lovelies) should you wish to keep it meatless. Any one or even two of these toppings really lift the soup so choose your own adventure.
One year ago: Chicken Wonton Soup
Two years ago: Chicken Chili and Ugly-But-Good Cookies
Three years ago: My Ultimate Chicken Noodle Soup and Popcorn Party Mix
Four years ago: Parmesan Broth with Kale and White Beans and Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Mango
Five years ago: Carrot Soup with Tahini and Crisped Chickpeas and Ethereally Smooth Hummus
Six years ago: Carrot Soup with Miso and Sesame and Apple Shartlotka
Seven years ago: Chard and White Bean Stew and Vanilla Bean Pudding
Eight years ago: Southwestern Pulled Brisket and Caramel Pudding
Nine years ago: Fig and Walnut Biscotti and Squash and Chickpea Moroccan Stew
Ten years ago: Viennese Cucumber Salad and Lemon Bars
Eleven years ago: Really Simple Homemade Pizza and Balthazar’s Cream of Mushroom Soup
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Confetti Party Cake
1.5 Years Ago: Peaches and Cream Bunny Cake
2.5 Years Ago: Green Beans with Almond Pesto
3.5 Years Ago: Blue and Red Berry Ricotta Galette
4.5 Years Ago: Slow and Low Dry Rub Oven Chicken
Split Pea Soup
I make a quick and hasty herb sauce by blending 1 large or 2 small, peeled garlic clove(s) and a couple handfuls of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (or a mix of herbs, such as mint and/or cilantro, that you’d like here) with the finely grated zest of half a lemon, salt, and red pepper flakes until well chopped and then drizzling in olive oil with the machine running until the mixture becomes saucy. Season with more salt and pepper. This sauce keeps in the fridge for a week and is also great on roasted potatoes, squash or even fried eggs.
For the soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 leeks, halved and sliced into ribbons
- 1 carrot, chopped small
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- Salt and freshly black pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, cloves peeled and sliced thin
- 1 pound dried green split peas, rinsed and picked over
- 2 quarts vegetable stock or broth.
- 2 to 3 sprigs of thyme, leaves still on (optional)
- 1 bay leaf
- Fresh herb sauce (instructions up top)
- Sour cream
- Two slices of crumbled crisp bacon (obviously would no longer be vegetarian)
- Garlicky or gruyere croutons
In an InstantPot or electric pressure cooker: Set your pot to sauté and cook the vegetables as written above. Once you’ve added the stock, dried peas, and herbs, cook the mixture under high pressure for 15 minutes and then let it naturally release for at least 5 minutes manually releasing it the rest of the way. Remove thyme sprigs (most of the leaves will have fallen off) and bay leaf and season very well with salt and black pepper.
Both methods: I do not puree this soup, but you can at this point with an immersion blender, either all or just halfway. Ladle soup into bowls and finish with garnishes of your choice.
Do ahead: Split pea soup keeps fantastically in the fridge or freezer but, just to warn you, it looks crazy thick once it has chilled. It should loosen as you rewarm it, but if it doesn’t enough to your liking, add another splash of broth or water as needed.