roasted fennel

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FATTEH WITH CUMIN CHICKPEAS & TAHINI YOGURT: IMMIGRANT FOOD STORIES.

I first met Eyad Houssami at a time when we had the privilege of seamlessly interweaving life and art: In college. We threw hefty doses of youthful political angst in for good measure, and looked to radical forebears to show us the way to wholeness through artistic expression. After college, Eyad and I rarely spoke. But sometime in 2015, an incredibly kind email zinged into my inbox: Eyad had printed out three Kale & Caramel recipes to make, remarking that many of the flavors I used reminded him of his current home (Beirut, Lebanon). And thus began a pitter patter of emails back and forth about pomegranate molasses, dates, and yogurt. Eyad sent beautiful pictures of the roasted kabocha fennel soup, sprinkled with a dukkah more legit than I could ever dream of making.

And so, when my friend Kimberley Hasselbrink brought a group of food writers together to share immigrant food stories in response to the executive order that’s become commonly known as the “Muslim ban”, I immediately thought of Eyad, of pomegranate molasses, of those foods native to him that have become so much a part of my life. Lucky for us, Eyad agreed to an interview. I thought I’d let him speak for himself, and for the dish I’m sharing today: Fatteh, layers of toasted pita with cumin-fried chickpeas, garlicky tahini yogurt, and ghee-toasted pine nuts. Eyad wrote to me from airports in Berlin and Istanbul, traveling home from auditioning refugees for a theatrical production he’ll tell you more about below.

Read more and get the recipe here.

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ROASTED DELICATA SQUASH & FENNEL FRITTATA WITH HERB SALAD.

This post was created in partnership with Clover Organic Dairy. All opinions are my own.

Good morning from back in LA! It was a cozy and sweet week on Maui, filled with north shore rainstorms, crystalline south side beach trips, and the deep, restorative quiet of nights in Ulupalakua, where I grew up. The quiet in Ulu is transcendent, filling, steady. It simultaneously demands nothing and creates space for deep reflection. I’m in awe of the life my father and his partner Susan have created there, stillness flourishing amidst the cattle ranch and vineyards.

Susan and my father and I spent a lot of time sharing stories about our past few weeks, the state of our hearts and minds post-election, their time in a meditation retreat, joy over the news of their engagement. The holidays provide such a sweet space to come together, to ask difficult questions of ourselves, to discover the people we love anew.

Read more and get the recipe here.

Gendrya prompt from timecubed... My response

Five times Arya cooked for Gendry + one time Gendry cooked for Arya

@timecubed


Life has that funny way of reminding you that you’re not in control. I had plans for myself. I was going to graduate from culinary school as this famous chef and then travel the world, but life decided to throw me a curve ball and remind me that I’m powerless. So, instead of traveling the world I find myself with two jobs and barely any time left to sleep.

The first job, which is my day job, is a waitress gig at a fancy Italian restaurant. Not my ideal choice, but I need the money. My second job, at night, is closer to my degree, but far from my dreams of traveling. I’m the chef for a billionaire tycoon. I wish I could say he was someone you could easily hate, but that’s far from being true.

Gendry Waters had earn his money the hard way, working his way from the ground up. He owned numerous business dealing with iron and metals. He had taken his skills and turned it into a billion dollar industry. I respected the hell out of him. He was a private man, staying out of the spotlight as much as possible. There wasn’t any heavy scandals with his name involved, yet he remained a total stranger to people, including the people who worked for him.

Monday…

I pay the cab fare, as the man driving stares out at the mansion I work in. The kitchen is my fortress, and everyone knows to give me space as I work. Tonight’s menu is lamb with mint sauce, asparagus seared in butter, hot rolls and a glass of chardonnay. Mr. Waters has a set menu that he seldom strays from, which makes my life simple seeing as I’m sleep deprived and I don’t need to give much effort to the menu.

Mrs. Caldwell, my supervisor awaits my arrival with instructions for tonight’s dinner. As usual, Mr. Waters will be eating alone. He never has dinner guests, not that I’ve seen in the three months I’ve worked for him.

When I enter the dining room He’s already seated, his face hidden in a newspaper. I serve him the hot meal and stand off to the side against the wall in case he needs anything. These silent moments are my favorite, for I get to watch him without him being aware of it. He’s still wearing his three piece charcoal suit from work, looking like a Greek god. I see why he’s considered Westeros’ most eligible bachelor.

His hair is as dark as night, worn short in the back and long in the front. His bangs almost come to his eyelids and I watch him push the hair from his forehead several times. The few times we’ve made eye contact I’ve come face to face with a set of sea-blue beautiful eyes. His sleeves are rolled up giving me a clear view of sculpted arms. So, yeah, I have a crush on my boss.

Tuesday…

My feet hurt. That’s all I can think as I enter Mr. Water’s home. I need rest, a vacation, but I know that’s never going to happen. My mind’s heavy tonight, but I don’t have time to think on all my problems. I need this job and it’s good pay, badly.

Tonight’s menu is spaghetti and meatballs. I had laughed the first time Mrs. Caldwell showed me the menu that he wanted. Spaghetti was the last thing I thought someone like Gendry Waters would want. He was country clubs and yachts. But I cooked him what he wanted, my grandmother’s special recipe.

He seemed to like it more than the lamb, and I’m caught off guard when he looks up at me. Our eyes meet and I stand a little taller, trying to ignore the screaming pain in my feet. He gives me one of his rare smiles and I feel my cheeks burn. He never speaks, not to me, but his smiles say the words his mouth doesn’t. Thank you for reminding me that I’m human, it says, just by serving me spaghetti. He’s as lonely as I am… his smile says that too.

Wednesday…

I’m running late tonight and my head is pounding from the table of twenty I served at the restaurant. Old men taking more grabs at me than they should, their drinks of rum coming every five seconds seems like. I’m in a foul mood, and my cell ringing doesn’t help. I swear if it’s Mrs. Caldwell I’ll hang up on the woman with the first word. Yes, I know I’m late.

“Hello?” I mumble.

“Hello, Miss. Stark, this is Nancy Forrester.”

I freeze on the cold sidewalk as the world around me shifts. I forget the pain in my head immediately. The blood runs from my face, leaving me chilled. Something’s happened.

“Are you there?” she asked, concerned.
“Y—yes,” I answered, softly.

“There’s no easy way for me to say this, Miss Stark, but the money has run out. It’s time to think of other options. We can give you a few days, but by Saturday we need you to make other arrangements. We will help you any way we can.”

I’m feel lost and alone. I knew this day would come, but I thought with the two jobs I could stay ahead of this dreaded day.

“How much do I need to come up with?”

“Two thousand dollars, Miss Stark.”

The weight upon me becomes heavier, and as I hurry into the kitchen at Mr. Waters home I’m fighting back the tears. I can’t come up with that money by Saturday. I barely have six hundred in the bank. I don’t have a choice. I ignore Mrs. Caldwell’s beady eyes as I place the Lobster Bisk and cob salad on the plate and hurry out to the dining room. Wednesday’s are Mr. Water’s light days. Soup and salad. Looks like I’m not the only one who’s late or in a foul mood.

Five minutes after I place his food on the table, he enters mumbling under his breath about stupid investments. His tie hangs loosely at his neck and he digs right in. The more time that passes in silence the more I know what I need to do, but I’m scared to open my mouth. Mr. Waters can help me if he chooses. He’s really the only option I have, and I’ll do anything at this point.
I wait till he’s done and he looks up at me. There’s no smile tonight, but I press forward.

“I was wondering, sir, if you wouldn’t mind giving me an advancement on my check. I’ll pick up other chores around the house to pay you back quicker.”

He stares at me, surprised that I’ve spoken to him. For what seems like forever no word is spoken.

“Arya, correct?”

“Y—Yes, sir.”

He nods his head, but let’s more minutes pass before answering. “And you need this advancement because?” he questions.

No one, not even my boss, knows my issues. I don’t want, nor need, anyone’s sympathy. I’ve made the decision to take on this burden, and until now I’ve needed no help. It’s the least I can do.

“Personal reasons.”

His eyebrows raise, “I see. I don’t give advancements. I’m sorry.”

With that, he stands from his chair and leaves me standing in shock. I feel hot tears in my eyes, but I blink them back. I’ve lost the only option I had in a matter of seconds.

Thursday…

I’ve picked up two extra shifts and talked to a loan officer, but all that gives me is fifteen hundred. I’m five hundred short. I haven’t slept in thirty-six hours and all of the stress is making me sick. My hands shake as I place the ribeye steak next to the baked potato and broccoli on the plate. Mrs. Caldwell is watching me closely, but I ignore her.

I almost don’t make it to the table before dropping the plate. He’s there, his hands reaching out to steady me. I don’t make eye contact with him, but I feel his eyes burning into the back of my head as I take my place in the corner. I want to sleep for days and not wake up, but life doesn’t give me that option.

“What’s the advancement for?” he asked, making me jump in shock.

When I look at him, his blue eyes are intense. If I tell him the truth he’ll fire me. He will know my baggage and question my reliability. He’s never shown interest in me, so I hoped I could get the advancement no questions asked… I was wrong.

“I’m sorry I asked for the money, Mr. Waters. I don’t need it.” I barely got the words out. I need the money more than anything.

“Are you in some kind of trouble? And call me Gendry. My father was Mr. Waters.

“No, sir. Nothing like that, Mr—Gendry.”

“You’re not doing drugs? No gambling debt?”

I clenched my jaw, trying my best not to be pissed. He’s only trying to help, I tell myself.

“There’s nothing like that going on, I promise you.”

Mr. Waters… Gendry wiped his mouth with his napkin and stands. I think He’s going to leave it there, but he stops half way out the door and turns to me. “How can you expect me to help you if you don’t even trust me enough to tell me why.”

I’m left feeling worse about my situation as he storms out of the room.

Friday…

I’ve searched every pocket of jeans, every hole and crack that money could fall in and I’m still four hundred-eighty five dollars short. I allowed myself two hours of sleep before my double at the restaurant and then Gendry’s. My last hope is my tips I could make tonight, though it’s been slow this past week.

When I walk in my manager is waiting at the door for me and signals for me to follow. I swallow the lump in my throat as I sit before his large desk.

“I’ve had to cut back, and I regret to tell you that you’re no longer needed here. You’ve served me well, Arya, but I need full time staff, not part time.”

I felt sick to my stomach, and I stood from the chair and left without a word. Before his door closed I heard him say my last check would be mailed to me in two weeks. I’m not down just a little anymore. I’m down the whole amount, for I needed that last check early. No check… no loan officer. I spend the rest of the day on the phone, calling around for another option to my problem. It’s not good.

When I finally entered Gendry’s kitchen my eyes were red and swollen, but it couldn’t be helped. I had come to the end of the line. Mrs. Caldwell scolded me twice when I burnt the chicken and had to start over. I wanted to throw the chicken in her face, but this was my last job… a last way to get money.
Finally, the Zuni Roast Chicken with Fennel Panzanella was finished and laid out for Gendry. I walked to my corner of the room and waited… and waited… and waited. The food I slaved over for two hours grew cold, yet the door never opened.

“He won’t be dining at home tonight, Miss Stark. He said to have his meal wrapped up and sent home with you,” said Mrs. Caldwell.

I didn’t want it, couldn’t eat it even if I did want it. I gathered the food and dumped it in the garbage bin outside. Any other day and I would have wanted to dump it on Gendry’s head for wasting the food, but not today.

I took a cab to the only place I knew I needed to be this late. It was after midnight, and usually they don’t allow visitors this late, but Kate is working. She always let’s me in. Sure enough, she pulls the door open and ushers me in, making sure no one saw me.

I enter a darkened room, but I know this room as well as I know my own bedroom. I’ve spent the majority of my time here for the past six months. This room is the reason I don’t sleep some nights. The person laying in the bed is the reason my burdens are so heavy.

“Hey, Sansa,” I whispered, knowing she’s not going to answer me. She hasn’t answered me for six months.

I reached out and took her hand in mine, laying my cheek upon her smooth skin. My older sister doesn’t respond to my touch. She’s all I’ve had since I was twelve. Our parents died in a car accident. She was seventeen when she took over my care. We had each other, and no one else. Now, our roles are reversed and it’s me taking care of her.

Or I was taking care of her. The insurance money we saved from our parent’s deaths has run out. There’s no money left, and I’m having to take her out of the care home she’s in, but I have no where to take her. Six month ago Sansa walked out of our apartment to go to the store and never came back. She suffered a brain aneurysm in the store and has been asleep ever since. There’s some brain activity but not much. One of the options they will discuss with me come morning is letting my sister go. I can’t do that. She’s all I have left.

I laid my head on her bed and allowed the tears to fall. It’s the only time, in the darkness, that I allow myself to feel hopeless and alone. No one can see my weakness.

“Please, Sansa. I don’t know what to do,” I cried, softly. “Come back to me.”

There’s no response. Just the silence and my soft sobs. Tomorrow will come soon, so for tonight I give in to my grief.

Saturday…

“Miss Stark.”

I come awake with a start to see Nancy Forrester standing in my sister’s room. I feel the dread consume me, knowing what’s about to happen. I have no answers to this problem.

“M—Mrs. Forrester. I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you come in. I came in last night to pack my sister’s things and fell asleep,” I said, not wanting to get Kate in trouble.

Mrs. Forrester looked at me, confusion in her features. “Are you moving your sister? But, I thought after you paid the entire year you were keeping her here.”

Her words took several moments to register in my mind. I couldn’t have heard her right. I opened and closed my mouth, not able to comprehend what was happening.

“W—What?” I said, my words choking me.

“We received your payment for the rest of the year. I was coming by to make sure your sister was comfortable and in good care.”

“That’s impossible,” I whispered, my vision blurred in tears.

She looked confused and laughed, as if uncomfortable. “I assure you there is no mistake. The person on the phone said he was a cousin of yours, said he would send money whenever it was needed, and that he wanted Sansa well taken care of.”

“He?” I said, and before she could finish I was on my feet and out of the door.

The fifteen minute ride to Gendry’s was the longest of my life. I laughed, smiled, cried… every emotion hit me at once.

I entered the house, realizing it was unlocked and no butler to meet me. I searched the house, every room, until I heard movement in the dining room. When I entered I noticed the dining table fixed up for two. The plates were laid out with wine glasses ready to be drank.

Gendry came from the side door connected to the kitchen with a large pot in his hand. When he saw me, he froze. He had his sleeves rolled up, sweat dripping from his brow. Had he been cooking?

“You weren’t supposed to be here yet,” he said, hurrying to sit the pot on the table.

“Gendry,” I said, my voice cracking.

“Come and sit. We can talk after we eat.”

He pulled a chair out for me, and I sat down feeling like I’m in a dream. He poured us a glass of white wine. When he raised the top off the steaming pot, and I saw what was inside, I burst out laughing. All of these months I struggled with my sister and being alone came out of me in those few seconds. For the first time I sobbed in front of someone.

“Do You know why I ask for spaghetti on Tuesdays?” he asked, pointing to the hot spaghetti in front of me. I shook my head no. “My parents died on a Tuesday. They left me to grow up in an orphanage. The last memory I have of them is my mother in the kitchen making me spaghetti. Every Tuesday I visit their graves. It’s the hardest day of the week for me. When you cook this for me, it helps me to cope with the loss. Now, I want to help you the same way, so I slaved over this spaghetti and I pray it’s half as good as yours.”

I take a bite and am surprised at how good it really is. I look up and meet his kind blue eyes and smile. “Its delicious,” I whisper.

“Good. You eat while I talk, then. I did some research and found out about your sister. I hope you aren’t mad at the intrusion, but I worried. When I found out that they were releasing her everything made sense to me. I couldn’t let that happen. I paid for the entire year and have set up an account to keep your sister stable for as long as she needs it.”

I open my mouth to protest, but he doesn’t let me.

“Eat. Not on only that, but I’m flying in three experts in the field of brain trauma to look over your sister’s case. If there is a solution they will find it, but even if they don’t she will never want for anything. You will never have to worry for her.”

“But, why? Why are you doing this?” I ask, a tear slipping down my cheek.

“Because, you may not realize it but you take care of me, and I wanted to return the favor. And…”

He hesitates, unsure of himself. “And?” I ask.

“Since the moment you walked into my house three months ago I’ve tried to get up the nerve to tell you how you’ve captured me mind, body and soul. I didn’t help your sister for payment, but I couldn’t allow you to do this on your own. And… if you will allow me, I’d like to take care of you as well. I’d like to take you on a date, Miss Stark,” he says, his cheeks growing red.

I am up and out of my chair before I know what I’m doing. I wrap my arms around Gendry, feeling his heart beat as wildly as my own. His arms snake around my waste and hold me tightly. In that moment I let go of all of my baggage, all of my hurts and pains. It’s going to be okay now. I can finally say it’s going to be okay… and I say it over a pot of spaghetti. Maybe life does know better than me.

4
ROASTED FENNEL & BURRATA TOAST FROM ON TOAST.

When I finally made it home—my Maui home, my Ulupalakua home, my home in the middle of nowhere on the slopes of Haleakala—I completely collapsed. I stopped answering texts. And phone calls. And emails. I cooked for the first time in two weeks. I cooked without documenting, without a recipe, without a plan. I cooked because I wanted to. And then I slept. I slept long and hard and when I woke up I was almost more exhausted than the night before. I cancelled all my plans to see old friends and I laid on the couch and watched Fifty Shades of Gray and cried in my exhausted, jet-lagged, premenstrual state. It was glorious. I napped dreamlessly and I only woke up when Susan came home. Hours of sleep later, I began to feel something like human again.

I walked outside, barefoot, to the place we once said had the strongest concentration of plant spirits. I stood in this fluttering vortex of green leaves and sunlight and shadows and insects and spirits seen and unseen and I let everything fall away, slough off like dead skin cells in a fierce Korean spa scrub.

Read more and get the recipe from Kristan Raines’ new book On Toast here!

2

I have to say, I’m not entirely excited over the next arc’s recipes. Curry was never a favourite flavour but I’m not one to baulk from a challenge! Especially since the two that I have made from the previous episodes were delightfully delicious. I’ve already prewarned my sister about the potentiality of next month’s recipes being a variation of curry and well.. I may need to throw potluck dinners if I’m going to ascertain I have no leftovers. Not a bad bonding experience, ‘Heyyyy, I haven’t talked to you in like three years, but could you like, come over and help me polish this off? Thank you, you’re the best’. Nothing mends broken hearts faster than great food. Regarding this curry, I ended up making a few adjustments towards the end. The whole idea is to omit coconut milk to ascertain maximum flavour but I missed that creaminess and body so I ended up adding coconut milk and sweet potatoes, feel free to omit that and keep it true to recipe!

Hayama Akira’s Kozhi Varutha Curry

400g chicken thighs, 2 shallots, tomato (I ended up using 2), 1 piece of ginger, 2 cloves garlic, 1-3 red chillies (depends on your spice tolerance), 1 sprig curry leaves, coriander,  1/3 coconut (fresh is best of course, but I used shredded), 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1 ½ tsp chilli powder (again, adjust spice!), 2 tsp coriander powder

Garam Masala: ½ tsp fennel seeds, ½ tsp cumin seeds, 3-4 cloves, ½ tsp black peppercorns, 1 cardamom pod, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise

Regarding the spices, it can get pricey buying each individual spice despite the fact they’ll be used in plentiful supply for the next arc and they keep well. In Chinese/Vietnamese grocery stores, they sell large spice packets that contain an assortment of spice for around $1-2. Mine contained cloves, star anise, coriander seeds etc, that with the help of trusty google will help you pick out. 

To make the garam marsala, dry roast ½ tsp fennel seeds, ½ tsp cumin seeds, 3-4 cloves, ½ tsp black peppercorns, 1 cardamom pod, 1 cinnamon stick and 1 star anise until fragrant. Start on low heat to avoid burning.

In the meantime, start your prep by slicing chicken thighs into 2cm pieces, finely dice 1 shallots, 1 onion, 2 tomatoes and slice red chillies down the middle. Remove the seeds if you have a low spice tolerance.

Remove seeds from heat and grind until a fine powder. Set aside.

Dry roast the 1/3 cup grated coconut and shallots. (Don’t worry, it wont stick without oil)

When it turns golden brown, add 1 1/2tsp chili powder, 2 tsp coriander powder and stir. Turn off the heat.

Grind ingredients into a powder.

Add enough warm water so that a smooth paste forms

In a deep pan, fry onions, 2 split red chillies, and curry onions and sauté until golden.

Grate in 2 cloves of garlic, ginger, 1 tsp turmeric, salt and mix well.

Add tomatoes (and potatoes if you prefer) and sauté.

Add chicken pieces and sauté on medium heat. Add the reserved garam marsala. Cover and cook for 10-15 mins.

When the chicken cooks, it becomes incredibly tick, abstain from adding water for the time being. 

Stir in the coconut paste.

If it appears too thick, add warm water (or coconut milk for creaminess) and let it come to a boil. Adjust spice and seasoning to your tastes.

Serve atop of rice, hot. The chicken is incredibly tender and just seems to melt in your mouth. So on that note, garnish with coriander

Annndddd, this is how it looks with added coconut milk, pumpkin (which turned its colour), sweet potato and feta. I CAN’T STOP TOPPING IT WITH EVERYTHING. NO YOU CAN’T TAKE IT FROM MEEEE. But in all seriousness, the feta adds a luxurious saltiness whilst the coconut milk gives it more body. Totally ruining the integrity of the idea but eh.. it was good.

Roasted Kabocha & Fennel Soup with Dukkah, Yogurt and Pomegranate.



This soup is a primer for autumn nights: Earthy, rich on the palate, warming, and deeply comforting. It’s also a prelude to a confession: I rarely use pumpkin for my holiday cooking.

The trouble is, kabocha squash is everything pumpkin purports to be, and more. It’s dense, sweet, and profoundly orange. I even make my pumpkin pie from baked kabocha squash.

Scandalizing pumpkin confessions aside, this soup becomes a complete meal with the support of fennel and onion in the base, cooling plain yogurt, tangy pomegranate (in both molasses and fresh forms), and the complexity of my own toasted dukkah. 

Read more and get the recipe here.

4
ROASTED KABOCHA FENNEL SOUP

This soup is a primer for autumn nights: Earthy, rich on the palate, warming, and deeply comforting. It’s also a prelude to a confession: I rarely use pumpkin for my seasonal cooking. The trouble is, kabocha squash is everything pumpkin purports to be, and more. It’s dense, sweet, and profoundly orange. I even make my pumpkin pie from baked kabocha squash.

Scandalizing pumpkin confessions aside, this soup becomes a complete meal with the support of fennel and onion in the base, cooling plain yogurt, tangy pomegranate (in both molasses and fresh forms), and the complexity of my own toasted dukkah.

Dukkah is a middle eastern spice mix that can be blended at home, and customized to highlight the flavors of the dish at hand. Here, I used sesame, fennel, coriander, and cumin—all of which enliven the sweetness of the squash and are particularly bright against the yogurt. Toasting the dukkah mixture gives it a super potent shabam of flavor, perfectly complementing the rich vegetable stock at the soup’s base, courtesy Progresso’s new line of completely pure broths.

Read more and get the recipe here.

© Steve Legato

Travel Tuesday: At Pizzeria Vetri in Philadelphia, the Neapolitan pies come with thick, chewy crusts and toppings like prosciutto crudo and roasted fennel. The rotolo, not to be missed, are pink, fatty slices of house-made mortadella and ricotta wrapped in pizza dough, topped with Sicilian pistachio pesto.

Here, more of the best pizza places in the US.

Balsamic Roasted Fig, Fennel & Arugula Salad.



Fennel seems to thrive year-round here in southern California, which make me a very happy lady when it comes to salad concocting. In fall and winter, fennel takes on deeper, richer notes, paired with heavier, sweeter flavors. As the weather cools, I’ll begin cooking the fennel as well. For now, a transitional moment with fresh fennel, roasted figs, and goat’s cheese. Summer waning into fall.

This salad unites the curious brightness of fennel with the intensity of figs roasted in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, smoked salt, and fresh thyme. The figs nearly caramelize, sizzling and blistering and making this salad a sexy adventure of a dish.

Read more and get the recipe here.