Weekly Dinner Menu
August 24 - 30
September 21 - 27
Let's be clear here, restaurants are amazing places. They can be your local community and support system, they can be a respite from life, they can be your employer, and they can be an introduction that lasts a lifetime. But sometimes you want the food you've had at a restaurant and you want to have it at home. Maybe it's because you've moved far away and you have no other alternative but to make it yourself. Or maybe it's because you're crazy picky and you want it just a slightly different way. Or maybe you want the same flavors and memories, but lightened up a little to have what was special food, become part of your everyday food. I perhaps fit most squarely into this last one - I love feeling like everyday is a bit of an indulgence, but I don't love the feeling of overeating and being weighted down by food. So making food at home tends to be the go-to for this reason.
For the Kohlrabi pancakes and the Red lentil durum, I called on the recipes from Sofra cafe back in Boston, which is one of my favorite places. These recipes fit squarely in the "too far but want the food" category. Let me tell you, they absolutely do not disappoint. Then we have the Farro salad from Ottolenghi, which is more of the last bucket of "let's eat everyday food that that is indulgent". And lastly, the corn and chanterelle empanadas from The Sweet Home Café cookbook, which falls in the category of "I'd love to try their version, but I likely won't make it soon so let me try it out myself here".
So I guess this week is about bringing pure indulgence into the everyday - I think we all might need a little of that delight now and then, and it's certainly not different during covid times.
This dinner is a combination of two different recipes from the Sofra cookbook. I've been walking past the kohlrabi in the supermarket almost longingly recently. We've been having these massive ones that seem like they could give so much, yet I'm not entirely sure what to do with them. I was also recently listening to Samin Nostrat and Hrishi Hirway's podcast Home Cooking and kohlrabi came up as a "problem veg" as I'd put it.
So in an attempt to find the glory in this ever giving veg, I tried out these pancakes and served it with a side salad to add a sharp and refreshing contrast. This was so spectacularly delicious that it changed my mood for the rest of the evening. There isn't much quite like putting on some great music, dancing around the kitchen, being present in the evening cooking, and having such a spectacular meal at the end of it.
As usual, I've made some adjustments from the original recipe based on what I have easily accessible to me and where the wind takes me as I cook so to speak. The original kohlrabi pancake recipe called for bacon, so this has become the vegetarian version.
Feel free to use a microplane grater to shave a little of the halloumi over the top of the hot kohlrabi pancakes if you'd like a little garnish.
Although Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick refer to the bread in this recipe as "yufka" the first time I used it, José said they were the best flour tortillas he's had since leaving Mexico. So at this point, whenever I make this dough, his ears perk up and the pure joy of us having burritos for dinner is marked all over his face.
Today I thought I'd have to disappoint when I said I was making a red lentil wrap kind of thing. I tried to mince my words a bit so as not to oversell or undersell it, but I'll admit that going up against burritos is a hard sell in this home so I was a bit nervous. Also...I want to love lentils, I really do, but I just don't like them that much. Genuinely all my heart knows that they're nutritious powerhouses especially in diets with reduced animal products. My dad even dreamed of a life where every Wednesday would be lentil soup day. I want to love them that much, but I often find them to be bitter and mealy. Interestingly, José also loves lentils more than I'd imagine, so it gives me a little leeway in my experiments in this area. This recipe comes from the cookbook Soframiz: Vibrant Middle Eastern Recipes from Sofra Bakery & Cafe. This cafe one of my favorite places back in Boston and as the fall air rolls in, I'm craving the food from this cafe and a long walk through Mt. Auburn Cemetery (I promise it's one of the most beautiful parks out there). I've made some slight adjustments to make this vegetarian recipe vegan. I didn't have split red lentils, just whole ones with their outer skin, a coarser grind bulgur, and various kinds of chili flakes but not maras pepper. The result is probably not as smooth, perhaps slightly spicier, but it's still incredibly delicious.
The tomato jam is really what makes this dish stand out. It brings an acidity to the wrap that I underestimated. It's what makes a lentil dish craveable, even for me, a lentil skeptic.
Growing up, we had a gem of a Chinese restaurant right around the corner. It had all these tassels everywhere as a decoration. As a young kid, those tassels looked like the perfect setup to braid or turn into friendship bracelets while we waited for the food to arrive...they were absolutely not intended for that. One time the owners saw me doing it and well let's just say I never did it again.
But this restaurant remained our go-to birthday restaurant. Every birthday we'd go to Changsho and order a really amazing spread. They had a lot of amazing dishes, but one that I always loved was the cold noodles with a sesame sauce.
This dish is a lighter version as it replaces wheat noodles with shirataki noodles, yet it's spectacularly satisfying. This recipe comes from J. Kenji López-alt at Serious Eats. I've increased the proportion of cucumbers, since I really love the freshness it gives to the dish.
José and I picked up a can of huitlacoche ages ago. It's hung out in the back of the cupboard waiting for the perfect moment to make huitlacoche tacos. I've never had huitlacoche, and it's fairly hard to come by here in Berlin, so when José saw the canned version, he was so excited to share this specialty with me.
As we ate these tacos, I realized a few things - this is an incredible way to honor corn - from fresh, to dried, to well matured - these tacos are an honor towards the corn plant and the various tastes and textures it can provide us with.
The second realization is that the idea of making vegetarian corn tacos with corn and mushroom filling likely comes from this original corn mushroom. Although huitlacoche, at least in the canned variety, was very delicate in flavor, it added a meaty, savoriness that the tacos really benefited from. If you can't find huitlacoche, absolutely feel free to sub in regular white button mushrooms.
I first had a memorably delightful salad with farro at a bakery in Cambridge, MA called Hi-Rise. It's a notoriously posh place (often joked around being called hi-price) but they do have some delicious treats and occasionally I'd just like a real treat.
They had this herbed buttermilk dressing they'd serve with the salad, along with farro, olives, and feta. It's an absolutely deluxe salad. A few months back I made it for José and he became enamored with farro - the chewiness of it was really the draw. So on my quest to find new and interesting ways to use farro, I came across this salad from Ottolenghi. If you're not vegan, you can absolutely use regular dairy feta. I tried this recipe with a vegan feta and was a fan, but next time I may just stick with extra olives for the fatty, salty, briny taste.
I also charred the scallions in part because I don't love a mouthful of fresh ones, or rather the lingering aftertaste, and in part to up the smokiness of the salad.
This recipe originally comes from the Sweet Home Café Cookbook. I've been looking for creative ways to use chanterelles other than cream and dairy-laden pastas and pizzas. As I was flipping through the book, this recipe really stood out to me as an interesting way to honor some late summer/early fall produce in the form of an empanada, something so familiar to me as someone with family originally from Argentina.
I took this recipe and used an empanada dough that I'm more familiar with, which is baked, not fried, like the cookbook suggests, simply because I'm lazy and frying constantly brings up images of me burning down a whole block of houses (not like it's happened to me, but I'm a bit terrified of this regardless) and because it felt like a nice way to bring this recipe into the baked empanadas that evoke true comfort food for me.
It's funny for me to see empanadas served with a sauce. Every time I've shared empanadas with people both in the USA and in Germany, people ask for a dipping sauce to go along. I'm not totally sure where this comes from, but for me, this is like being given a ham and cheese sandwich and someone asking you for a gravy dipping sauce. Sure, you could totally do that and I'm sure it would be delicious, but it kind of compromises the "grab and go-ness" that a simple sandwich allows. This is the same for empanadas. But this recipe originally was served alongside a fresh salsa. I know how much José douses food in hot sauce, so I decided to make a riff on the sauce they recommend and to make a simple cooked sauce to dip the empanadas into. This sauce makes the dish. The tanginess of the sauce compliments the richness and ads a juiciness to the bean filling.
If you're in a rush, by all means use a jarred or bottled hot sauce and skip the homemade version in this recipe.
Credit for this recipe absolutely goes to José. A long time ago, he made these on a lazy Sunday when we had nearly nothing around and in true Berlin fashion, the shops were closed so we had to make due with what we had around.
The Danish are known for their Smørrebrød, which I will crudely call an open-faced sandwich. I'm absolutely no expert on the Smørrebrød, but living so close to Denmark, it's hard to not run into some culturally similar elements here in Berlin. Open-faced sandwiches can be picked up at nearly any bakery here, but they often come made with hard-boiled egg or the cured minced pork meat with raw onions on top that seems to beloved by Germans.
I digress. This open-faced sandwich of sorts is incredibly tasty and reminds me a bit of a grilled cheese if it were a bit more nutritious. If you have kids, I'd imagine this would be a weeknight favorite, and if you occasionally just want a dinner with significantly more flavor but with the ease of making toast, this will hit the spot too.
Weekly Dinner Menu
August 24 - 30
Weekly Dinner Menu
August 17 - 23
Weekly Dinner Menu
August 10 - 16
Weekly Dinner Menu
July 20 - 26
Every Sunday evening, I send out a newsletter with the following week's dinner menu, and the seasonal produce featured. The newsletter is free, and I won't share or sell your email address.
If it turns out it's not the content you're looking for, you can easily unsubscribe with a link at the bottom of the email. This project was originally a way to wrap my head around the evolving seasonal produce in the supermarkets.
I'm so excited to share the journey and learn from you as I go along!
- Julia Feld