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Carrot Soup with Tarragon, Ginger and Toasted Pepitas: Private Chef-ing By the Book with Seamus Mullen

Funny story:

Last April I was soaking my arthritic bones in a deep bath full of Epsom salts and essential oils, melting away the wet of Spring, with Seamus Mullen’s soon-to-be-released Hero Food cookbook. I was interviewing Chef Mullen for my column on Serious Eats NY, and the book had been messengered over for my research. As I flipped through the intro, I was flabbergasted: Seamus has rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic immune disease that manifests with symptoms and patterns similar to my own with Lyme. I jumped out of the tub, threw on a robe and, dripping, held the book up to my roommate, with a “you’ll never guess what this cookbook is about!!”

Which was an unfair proclamation.

Because while, indeed, Chef Mullen battles RA, the book isn’t about that. It’s about delicious food that also happens to be good for you.

When I was first diagnosed with Lyme Disease at 12 years old, massive amounts of antibiotics weren’t cutting it. I couldn’t walk for a long period, I couldn’t eat, I attended school sporadically when I could, and in general my brain and body were in Lala land seemingly without end. It wasn’t until my mom found a nutritionist who put me on a strict diet, lots of supplements and IV vitamin drips that my immune system got so strong that my symptoms went away – relatively speaking – even though the Lyme did not.

Growing up with Lyme – including dealing with two serious flairs again in adulthood – taught me a lot about food. There were many I had to avoid – some incredibly strictly during certain periods but in moderation in others – and some that to this day I can’t touch. But there were also some that I needed to load my diet with so that my digestive tract, immune system and joints had a bit of extra help.

Seamus calls them hero foods.

Two decades later, I’m a private chef in a household with no dietary restrictions. Actually, I call myself a “private cook”, because a chef I am not. I am adept at making delicious things and, yes, can cook without guidance. But for inspiration and to widen my skill-set I often take advantage of my job and bring favorite books I want to explore to work with me. And as my blogging time has been diminished by my cooking, interviewing and event-covering time, I figured I should let my professions overlap when possible.

Hence this new series, “Private Chef-ing By the Book”.

It’s fitting that I’m starting with Hero Food because this time of year I’m back in the tub often. My job is physical, and I have to medicate, soak and sleep more often to battle the pain it brings my joints. 

Just reading through Mullen’s Spanish-based recipes brings me comfort; not only do I love the ingredients he focuses on (olive oil, almonds, anchovies, good eggs, good birds, parsley etc.), but reminding myself why they’re healing for me helps me connect more intimately with them, reminding me to give them more attention when I’m frantically cooking in someone’s kitchen.

In Hero Foods this carrot soup is made to celebrate summer, with gorgeous fresh carrots and a splash of citrus. But since it’s chilly and damp in NYC I’ve made a few tiny adjustments. In the original recipe Chef Mullen blanches the carrots: I’ve chosen to roast them. He tops his with yogurt: for my boss-family I stirred some creme fraiche in instead, and for my holiday dinner-party I’ll serve it with tangy goat yogurt so I can enjoy it too. And because it’s autumn now in New York City, I toasted some pepitas and tossed them in cinnamon and a pinch of sugar to sweeten the deal a bit. I adjusted some ingredients a tad and served the soup hot rather than chilled.

This soup is delicious. I’d never thought to add orange juice or zest to a carrot or squash soup, and it brightens and enlivens the rooty vegetables. Streaming in olive oil at the end emulsified it to a smooth cream. And not using chicken stock – which is my go-to for adding flavor and depth – really let the carrots remain the star and the gentle garlic, ginger and tumeric do the flavoring. And while I love tarragon and use it often, serving it on top rather than blending it in as I usually do helps it stand out rather than meld with a pluthera of equally-amazing flavors.

I’ve cooked from Chef Mullen’s book a few times already. And on top of the deep flavors I’ve created, it’s given me mindful time in the kitchen with ingredients that should be constantly in my rotation. Soon I’ll be pickling mushrooms to add to my cheese plate and pan-roasting Brussels sprouts with some (Portuguese… sorry Mullen) chorico for Thanksgiving. At work next week I’m going to make his tender lamb meatballs in a gentle tomato sauce and ricotta. And when the weather warms up again, I’m going to utilize the grill in my boss-family’s summer home to do more smoking, which I can’t do in my tiny NYC apartment.

But, until then…

There’s Hero Soup.

Stay warm and dry, East Coasters,

– Jacqueline

** Note: Chef Mullen is also the owner of Tertulia, in NYC. I took my friend Nikk – the chef whose job I took on – for his going away / birthday dinner. It’s one of the best meals I’ve ever had, and is one of my favorite restaurants around. If you love flavor-packed food, salty fish, cured meats, incredible cheeses, bright vegetables and potent wine, go there soon. If you don’t… um…

Carrot Soup with Tarragon, Ginger and Toasted Pepitas

Based on Seamus Mullen’s Chilled Carrot Soup with Yogurt and Tarragon from Hero Food.
Serves 4-6 depending on serving sizes

Ingredients:

2 lbs carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
1/2 cup olive oil (the book specified Arebquina, which happens to be what I had on hand!)
2 shallots, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1/4 tsp whole tumeric
Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper
Creme fraiche, if desired, or whatever yogurt you can digest (or omit completely to make vegan)
About 4 tarragon fronds or 2 Tbsp coarsely chopped tarragon

For the Pepitas:

Note: Thanks go to Chef Anthony Ricco at The Spice Market, NYC, for this pepitas idea. He serves it on an incredible sweet butternut squash soup that I’ll be for Thanksgiving. His interview coming up in a few weeks on Serious Eats.

1/4 cup pepitas (small hulled pumpkin seeds)
1 Tbsp olive oil 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sugar, if desired

Directions:

Heat oven to 375°.

Combine carrots and about 2 Tbsp oliver oil on a large baking tray. Sprinkle with salt, cover loosely with foil, and roast for about 30 minutes, until almost steamed and completely soft, and slightly browned on bottom. Remove to cool slightly.

While the carrots are roasting, prepare the pepitas: place pepitas and olive oil in a cold skillet and place over medium/high heat. As the temperature starts to rise stir and then start tossing until they crackle, pop and expand. When they’re equally lightly browned and full in size, remove quickly to a bowl. Toss with a pinch of salt, cinnamon and sugar (if desired – you don’t need to).

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add shallots, and cook to sweat, 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and toss quickly to warm and slightly sweat, about another minute more.

Place cooked carrots, shallots, garlic, vinegar, orange juice and zest, tumeric, and ginger in a blender, food processor or large pot (and use a hand blender). Start running the blender on high and slowly add warm water until you get to the “velvety” consistency you desire, about 2 cups. Reduce the speed of your blender/mixer, and stream in about 1/2-1 cup olive oil until emulsified and gorgeously smooth.

Adjust taste with salt and pepper, and add more acid from vinegar or orange if desired.

Pour into serving bowls and top with a dallop of creme fraiche / yogurt, a few fronds of tarragon, a swirl of olive oil and some toasted pepitas.

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I Chat With James Oseland, Editor-in-Chief of Saveur Magazine

When I set out to start shaping my writing career around the culinary world, I had no real expectation. At the time I was more focused on getting in front of a camera, sharing my dusty little recipes in a friendly environment for those struggling with food allergies. But, honestly, it takes a lot of energy to be a performer, and after 10+ years of pushing to find it I’ve realized sometimes my body doesn’t have that energy.

So writing became the focus. I’ve always been a reader, and an observer, and been most excited by what excites others – hence why I wanted to slip into the skin of another person as an actor, or make documentary films on other kinds of performers, or now interview chefs in their own kitchens.

I remember my first issue of Saveur Magazine… or at least the first I purchased and the one that made me sign up for a subscription shortly after. It was #123: Why Lamb Rules. Along with a diagram of cuts of lamb and recipes from all over the world on how to prepare it, the issue also featured different types of cinnamon and which apples proved to be best for baking (I remember all of this, including the images of lamb, cinnamon and apples, as I sit here… I didn’t have to look this up).

I read a lot about food. But Saveur has a special place in my heart. Reading it – both in print and now on my iPad – takes me all over the world and into the kitchens and dining tables of places I could only dream of eating at and exploring.

So today’s interview on Serious Eats was a special one for me. James Oseland is incredibly kind, passionate, energetic. His love of food and his trajectory with how he got to Saveur is delightful. He talked for over an hour, and it was a nightmare cutting down some truly entertaining tidbits for the article. He uses such colorful language so fluidly, and paints incredible pictures with his words.

One thing I pointed out in the interview is how much I admire how Saveur’s stories really do tie together food with family, culture, the earth, and god – however the subject perceives those to be. When Brent and I went to the Acores last year, several of the stories we were working on I had with Saveur in mind. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll get back there together.

Until then, please check out this very special interview on Serious Eats.

Happy Tuesday,

– Jacqueline

The NYC Wine and Food Festival (and on Not Eating At Work)

Elizabeth Karmel’s PB&J Cupcakes at NYC Wine and Food Festival SWEET event, photo Jacqueline Raposo

There’s something curious about straddling worlds as a food person who writes things that people (sometimes) read and pay attention to.

I’ve had these fun little allergies for a few decades now, but for the most part rarely feel deprived, as there’s a plethora of alternative ingredients to cow-dairy and gluten that didn’t exist when I was a tween battling her first bout of Lyme disease. I can ingest a small amount of gluten without killing myself, and a few times a year indulge on something really special: a local beer at a baseball game with friends on the Ohio river in Cincinnati: a piece of a hot, crusty Portuguese roll with my family. I admitted this in a blog post for Easy Eats after a and the response from the gluten-free community was mixed, with some challenging my credentials in working for a gluten-free publication and one person saying flat out that they were no longer going to follow the magazine.

So there’s that.

My piece on Tacos and Tequila rocking the hour on Serious Eats (and SWEET is up there too)

On the flip side, I interview chefs and cover events for Serious Eats NY, where I often can’t eat what is offered to me. I either pick what I can off a plate, rely on my partner (Brent Herrig, who thank dog can eat everything) or question those around me for details and opinions. So far no one has questioned my credibility to write in this world, though I haven’t called particular attention to the fact that I didn’t eat a single bite from the NYC Wine and Food Festival’s SWEET event because every single dessert offered contained gluten and/or dairy, most often both.

Seems that one world is easier to get by in and the other more serious, though curiously juxtaposed in their titleage.

I never quite how odd my absence of eating could be until covering the New York City Wine and Food Festivals Chopped, SWEET and Tacos and Tequila events. At Chopped (all the judges from the TV show Chopped dishing out at Marc Murphy’s Landmarc) I could literally only eat Murphy’s pork belly – if I just ate the meat off the bun. At SWEET – nada. I went home both nights very hungry. At Tacos and Tequila, I picked my way through (and thoroughly enjoyed) what I could. Luckily Brent has become part of my anti-allergy team and questions ingredients alongside me, warning me when not to take a bite (and refilling my tequila and soda as needed).

This doesn’t mean, though, that I don’t love straddling both of these worlds. In fact, I don’t see them as two different worlds. They’re just… well… my world. There was no “gluten-free community” or food blogs when I started on my personal relationship with watching how food affects my body. There was just me, my plate, and how my body accepted or rejected what I put on it.

So I’m still celebrating what I can eat and what I can’t. For some reason, this has resulted in my profession being creating and writing about food. And now and then accepting that maybe I’ll just have to go a little hungry… and drink some tequila and shake it on a dance floor.

Check out the little colored words in the post for my pieces on Easy Eats and Serious Eats, and the images below to take you to those events.

Slainte,

– Jacqueline

NYC Wine and Food Festival’s SWEET event, Friday October 12th (photo, me)

NYC Wine and Food Festival’s Tacos and Tequila, Saturday October 13th (photo Brent Herrig)

Female Chefs join to Benefit SHARE, a breast and ovarian cancer organization

Chefs Gabrielle Hamilton, Sue Torres, Anita Lo, Amanda Freitag and Elizabeth Faulkner. Photo Kym Fajardo.

“Pathology’s benign – just have to repeat the test in 6 months. Thx for all your love + support.”

That is exactly the kind of text you want to receive from a good friend, especially when a long day is going to be celebrated by covering a benefit for breast and ovarian cancer. I got off the subway to find it flashing triumphantly on my phone yesterday, and almost cried out in relief. I know these kinds of texts are going to change the older we get, but I really wasn’t ready for hearing the opposite. I know – we never are. But I’ll push off that moment as long as possible.

Yet, when it comes, at least I know there’s a community of love and support waiting. The world surrounding breast and ovarian cancer support has grown dramatically in my lifetime, and continues to thrive today. Last night I attended A Second Helping of Life, an event bringing together some of New York City’s best female chefs to benefit SHARE, a breast and ovarian cancer support organization. It brings together survivors and their families, offering education, a forum to discuss, and community.

It was a beautiful event, and I was psyched to see so many of the chefs I’ve interviewed there and make connections withe more to come. And, of course, it was just delicious.

Head on over to Serious Eats NY for the full coverage.

I Chat With: Chef Jim Botsacos of Molyvos and Abboccato

Chef Jim Botsacos at Molyvos, NYC. Photo Brent Herrig.

There’s something about an Italian chef.

And there’s something about a Greek chef.

Jim Botsacos is both Italian and Greek.

He had a lot to talk about.

Today on Serious Eats NY I chat with Chef Jim Botsacos of Molyvos and Abboccato restaurants in Manhattan. It was a truly delightful interview. For he talked mostly on family, and food, and culture. On how we inherit food traditions from our elders and how to bequeath them to the younger generations.

Chef Jim’s eyes light up when he talks about dishes and methods and ingredients to the point that both of our mouths were watering and he had to punctuate his sentence with a hand-gesture or a “boom” or “pop” vocally. His “tutti mangiare”, “shit, man” and “amazing” made him sound so New York City. He pulled out pictures of his kids. I walked away with tips on making meatballs incredibly fluffy and how to bake eggplant down to buttery, soft deliciousness.

And then there were things, as someone who also comes from very food-centered Mediterranean roots, just really hit home:

“Over the course of time you lose the language and people change, but you still have a close connection with the food.”

“Instinctively I gravitated towards the food of my culture. It’s imbedded in me. Family dynamics change, but no one can take food away from you.”

The interview is up today on Serious Eats NY.

Check it out.

Tutti mangiare!

I Chat With Chef Anita Lo of Annisa, NYC

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“I’ve always been a fan of language in general. On some levels I think that literature is the highest art—it excites the imagination, which had no borders to it.”

Today a particularly lovely interview goes live on Serious Eats NY: a chat with Anita Lo of Annisa. The 25th in this very special series, it’s another one that makes me feel so fortunate to be so welcomed into the kitchens of some very generous, talented, hard-working people.

And head here for a roundup of my favorite quotes and stellar images (from my rockstar partner, Brent Herrig) with the chefs in e series thus far.

Happy Monday!

Gluten-Free EASY EATS Magazine Summer Issue (my feature!)

HOORAY for the launch of Easy Eats Magazine’s current summer issue!!!

I feel so fortunate to be on the editorial staff of this amazing publication, headed up by Edit0r-in-Chief Silvana Nardone, who not only is an amazing chef and sharp editorial eye, but who has also taught me (by example) how to delegate responsibility, trust the talents of others, live creatively and just chill the heck out about the details.

My feature in the summer issue – a profile of Red Bee Honey Farm and 4 original gluten-free, honey-based recipes.

My feature in this issue is on Red Bee Honey Farm in Weston, CT. Between running back and forth to the Hamptons for my chef gig and managing my family’s business in Wilton, CT, I was able to catch a few minutes with owner / beekeeper Marina and steal some fun tidbits on what makes local honey so delicious. I was sold, immediately. I started noticing the different hues and flavors of the delicious honeys of the northeast, and stopped raising an eyebrow at the extensive prices.

More than anything, this new attention has changed the way I cook with honey. From something as simple as whisking a bit of clover or blueberry honey with some fresh lemon, mint leaves and bourbon to choosing which honey I want to focus in my dairy-free Honeybun Ice Cream.. I’ve been converted.

There are many reasons to become a subscriber to this ridiculously affordable, high-quality publication. So if you’ve got an extra dime and like good food… go for it.

Or if you wanna skip to the preview version of my article, head here.

Or for my four super-sweet featured recipes, check out my dairy-free Honeybun ice cream, roasted strawberry salad dressing, Sesame Honey chicken marinade and Lemon Honey Cranberry Granola Bars.

Or, if none of those ideas floats your boat, wrap your arms around yourself, squeeze and smile.

Why not, right?

Sweetly,

– Jacqueline

I Chat With: Doug Quint of Big Gay Ice Cream

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I’m way super psyched that this morning my first ice cream interview comes out on Serious Eats NY. On a gorgeous day in Union Square I had a fun and absurd talk with Doug Quint of Big Gay Ice Cream. My editor told me it put a smile on his face from start to finish. I like my editor. Hi Max.

As I prepare food for my the family I work for to eat on my days off, seeing another interview go live pumps me up for returning to Manhattan and sitting with a few more awesome people – first Anita Lo, who I am incredibly excited to sit with. And then George Mendes, a fellow Portuguese chef who I can’t wait to brain-pick.

As I type at my iPad in my work kitchen, pondering what food I’m making today, I’m feeling very much at peace. I am exhausted from a long weekend of cooking for many people. But they were all lovely people, and I feel like I’m starting to get good at my job, finally settling into my skin with it. I’m going home to a good man who I really care about who is making ME an insane dinner tonight. And I’m celebrating turning 31 this week with my wonderful family, my dearest friends, and sustainable health. I am much happier right now than at this time last year, when turning 30 felt significant but hard. For the first time in my life I feel – naturally and fully – an adult. It was a weird realization… But a comfortable one.

So, enough reflection…

Go check out my interview with Doug on Serious Eats NY, to start your day off on a happy note.

From the water in Amagansett, happy Monday,
Jacqueline

I Chat With Chef Markus Jernmark and a Missed Milk Bar Monday!

Last night at around 9pm I sat down on the floor in my office at my dad’s house – empty and dark and quiet – and cried for about five minutes.

Life is just… full… right now.

I love everything I get to do… almost. But evidently it’s catching up with me. I cried for another 40 or so seconds today.

I need sleep. Everything is more dramatic when you’re sleep deprived.

I have a feeling more than 27 of you out there understand.

I picked 27 because it’s the first number that came to mind. No further reason.

Anyway, two fun things are out in the world today.

The first, my We Chat With… interview with Marcus Jernmark of Aquavit in NYC is out today on Serious Eats NY. I loved sitting down with Chef Marcus, and once again found myself rejuvenated and motivated by someone’s passion, dedication and sense of humor in the chaotic field of food. And his plates are seriously gorgeous and you want to eat them immediately – two things that don’t always go hand in hand in NYC nowadays. And look at that smile! Nice, nice guy. Click on the image to be directed to the interview. They come out Monday mornings, all by yours truly.

Chef Marcus Jermark, photo Brent Herrig Photography

The second, my Milk Bar Mondays ladies! I haven’t had enough days off to make the deliciously lengthy Christina Tosi Milk Bar creation for this week, which makes my heart sad. This week Audra of The Baker Chic and Erin of Big Fat Baker made a Sweet Corn Cereal Milk Ice Cream Pie that is about to set me into a third round of tears, it looks so good and I wish I had a gluten-dairy-free version waiting for me RIGHT NOW! I even bought the ingredients two weeks ago, then didn’t have a day to make the recipe. Sniff. Check out these beauties (and click the images to be directed to their sites). Only 2 of 6 of us posted this week… I have good feelings about the next one.  I hate missing this swap. But what can you do?

From Audra of The Baker Chic

From host Erin of Big Fat Baker

Now I’m back to balancing books, driving, transcribing, researching, chatting, eating and, always, inevitably, cooking.

Happy Monday folks,

– Jacqueline

Thai Basil Daiquiri from Dave Arnold of Booker and Dax

This is Dave Arnold of NYC’s Booker and Dax, a Momofuku creation on 2nd Ave. I interviewed Dave for my We Chat With… column on Serious Eats, NY. As he whipped this baby up – perfectly chilled and bright with Thai basil – he told me how we could recreate it quite similarly at home. Within a week, my photographer Brent was slugging them down and I was still thirsty for another one. A week later at the mess of the Great Googa Mooga festival, Booker and Dax mixologist Tristan Willey pour liquid nitrogen on the ground and passed a plastic container with the bright green concoction the small crowd in their VIP tent; after fighting for food and finagling profile and plate shots out of busy chefs, it was liquid perfection.

Head to Serious Drinks for Dave and Tristan’s recipe.

And if you’re in NYC, I’ll most likely be stopping in at Booker and Dax tomorrow night.

Slainte.

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