Summer is all about shooting things in season: peaches and tomatoes, lush trees, people with their feet in the cool water of a placid lake. Naturally, it’s always slightly torturous for me to wait an entire year for these editorials to hit the newsstand. I’m excited to finally share an idyllic fish fry story I shot in Alabama last summer for Country Living. It was damn hot and the sprinklers turned on on my gear, but we all got to jump in after we wrapped, immediately erasing any challenges from our minds! Recipes by Dawn Perry, food styling by Marian Cooper Cairns, and prop styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas.
I’m admittedly obsessed with minimizing waste in the kitchen. It’s immensely satisfying to me on both environmental and culinary levels. My favorite two games in the world are: figuring out what to make with the week’s fridge remains and figuring out what to make with random grocery leftovers from shoots. Yes, I compost too. I just can’t see all of that possibly useful food waste and potential energy sitting in a landfill taking way too long to decompose.
I understand that composting might feel too daunting or may not be an easy thing to do in your area. I mean, I totally want you to reconsider because I promise it’s not hard, but I get it. On this Earth Day 2017, perhaps you might consider an alternate method of veggie scrap reincarnation: save them up and transform them into a healthier broth than you’re buying in the store! It’s so easy, basically free, and you’ll be making more delicious risottos, soups, and sauces than you were before. Win-win-win.
I like to save my veggie scraps from the week in a gallon Ziplock bag in the fridge. Almost anything is fair game here and onions, carrots, and celery are a great base. I have often read that it’s not good to use cruciferous vegetables but I’ve found that a little bit is fine and not overpowering, especially if you have enough sweet things like carrot and sweet potato peels or bits. I love throwing in onion skins and beet peels, but just know that can affect the color. The most important thing is to make sure that the stalks, leaves, and ends that you are using are clean because you don’t want dirt in your broth!
Here’s a typical mix of what I’ll include along with the holy trinity mentioned above: bits and ends of leeks and ginger, fennel pieces and fronds, peels of sweet potato, garlic including the skin, mushroom stems (the best for depth of flavor!), carrot tops, spinach, kale, or chard that’s on its last legs, plus herbs like parsley and thyme, a bay leaf or two, and peppercorns. It’s always good to consider how you’re going to use the broth and whether you want to include things like fennel, garlic, and ginger which have such strong notes. You want to avoid anything moldy or rotten, obviously. If you think it’ll take you longer than a week to collect the scraps or make the stock, pop your storage bag or container in the freezer instead.
The process is simple: wash off any dirt and roughly chop your veg. (You want about 4 cups of veg and that will yield about 2 quarts of broth.) Throw them in a big stockpot and cover them with water, but not so much that you can’t stir the pot. Add any herbs, bay leaf, or peppercorn. Bring to just under a boil over medium-high heat, then simmer on medium-low for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Strain and store, letting the broth cool completely before putting in the refrigerator or freezer. I don’t usually salt the broth until I know what sort of plans I have for it. Remember to mark the storage containers, especially if you’ve included something of note like ginger! The broth will keep in the fridge for up to a week and in the freezer for three months. You can also experiment with sautéing the onion, carrots, and celery before adding the rest of the veggies and water or by roasting all of the veg first too.
Spring is finally here and for a lot of us that means allergies and inflammation. If you're feeling me, look no further than this take on traditional golden milk by Monica Pierini. Turmeric is known for it's fantastic anti-inflammatory properties and it's such a treat paired with coconut milk! Happy sipping.
1 cup dairy-free milk of choice (coconut milk is best)
1-inch piece turmeric, peeled and sliced
Bring coconut milk to a simmer. Add turmeric and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour through a sieve and serve with a pinch of freshly ground pepper and agave, to taste.
Make your own variation by adding additional spices such as cardamom, cinnamon or clove.
This is the sort of meal I love because it fits my own shopping habits. Instead of requiring a complicated grocery trip unto itself, I can use pantry staples like grains, eggs, and yogurt that I tend to always have on hand, making it a perfect stress-free, healthful choice. This recipe is the brain-child of my friend Monica Pierini, who is a fabulous food stylist, and an easy go-to meal that uses a few simple ingredients to tremendously delicious effect.
1 cup forbidden rice
2 cups broth
1/4 cup whole milk yogurt
1-inch piece turmeric, peeled and finely grated
salt and pepper
1/2 head radicchio or other chicory, torn into bite size pieces
4 tablespoons mixed chopped herbs such as chives, parsley, and mint
1 lemon, supremed
In a medium pot combine rice and broth and bring to a boil. Simmer on low for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep covered for 10 minutes. Flake with a fork and set aside. In a medium pot bring enough water to cover the eggs to a boil. Add eggs and simmer for 6 minutes. Peel and set aside. In a small bowl combine yogurt, turmeric, salt and pepper to taste. Serve turmeric yogurt topped with rice, radicchio, herbs, lemon and eggs. Serve with additional salt and pepper.
Last fall I photographed The Soup Cleanse Cookbook, written by Nicole Centeno of Splendid Spoon. It was the perfect time of year for this project, with so many fruits and vegetables beautifully in season and so many colors and textures to inspire our photographs. The book doesn’t come out until the end of August (pre-order it here!) but Nicole has been sweet enough to let me share one of our favorite chilled soup recipes. Her Raw Cashew and Cucumber Soup is a great partner for summer—refreshing and full of vegetables and herbs currently bountiful at the farmer’s market. It’s a riff on Turkish cacik, is very simple to make, and is both dairy- and gluten-free.
4 cups water, divided
1 cup quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1⁄4 cup raw cashews, soaked in water overnight and drained
4 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 cup loosely packed and stripped fresh dill
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Pinch of ground black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
1. In a small pot over high heat, bring 2 cups of the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, add the quinoa, and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. In a small pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Cook the scallions and garlic, stirring, for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the mixture is very soft and sweet.
3. In a countertop blender, combine the scallion mixture, cashews, cucumbers, dill, mint, vinegar, pepper, and salt. Puree until very smooth, slowly
adding the remaining 2 cups water as necessary to achieve a thin milkshake consistency. Cover and cool in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
4. Gently mound a quarter of the quinoa into the bottom of each bowl and ladle the soup on top.
I've been making this cocktail a lot lately, given that winter is citrus season and given that I just really love mezcal. I thought I'd share it just in the nick of time for you to bust out the rosemary simple syrup, chill it, and mix these up for the Super Bowl tonight. They're totally going to show up your seven layer dip but trust me, you won't mind.
WINTER MEZCAL COCKTAIL
2 cups mezcal
1 cup freshly squeezed clementine juice (about 9 clementines)
1/2 cup lime juice (about 3 limes)
1/2 cup rosemary simple syrup (recipe below)
2 cups seltzer
Add first four ingredients to a pitcher, stir to combine. Top with seltzer and give a quick, light stir. Pour into rocks glasses, over ice. Garnish with small rosemary sprig if you’re feeling fancy. (This recipe is in relative parts, so just change cup to jigger to decrease quantity.)
ROSEMARY SIMPLE SYRUP
MAKES ABOUT 3/4 CUP
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 rosemary sprigs
In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar and rosemary sprigs. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Bring heat back to medium and simmer 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 30 minutes. Discard the rosemary and refrigerate in an airtight container, chilling thoroughly. Will keep in fridge for at least two weeks.
Making soup on a weeknight is easier than you might think and it’s a really healthy and filling way to end the day. This one came out of what I had on hand but was definitely inspired by flavor combos I discovered while traveling in Bali a few years ago. Toss both Kabocha and butternut squash (seeded and in big wedges) with coconut oil, onion, peeled chunks of ginger root, and salt and pepper. Roast at 350 degrees until tender, then scoop the squash flesh, onion, and ginger into a blender, add stock, and blend away, drizzling in more stock until soup reaches desired consistency. Definitely squeeze some lime on it and if you’re feeling fancy, you can garnish with a bit of fried shallot and lime zest—it’s always nice to have a pretty plate!