Saving September + White Risotto with Corn, Carrots and Kale

Its been over a decade since I was in college, but something about this weekend reminded me of my first September at the University of Missouri, and my inaugural Saturday game day. So excited to join the ranks of collegians, I dressed up in crispy new jeans and a cozy cardigan—a look borrowed from J-Crew. Not long after joining my new friends in the bleachers, I found the beating sun explained why the older girls wore sundresses instead. In Missouri, summer hangs on.

In New York, autumn reigns. At our Saturday market in Socrates Sculpture Park, the crowd was unapologetically bundled in snug sweaters, sporting the seasons newest boots. Dozens of hands passed over peaches for pumpkins. I adore fall foods, but for the first time I can remember, the concord grapes and plums, heaped in their green cardboard cartons, are just barely tempting. We have plenty of time for that, I think. Its only early September.

How wrong I am. After an hour in the park in thin layers, we had to retreat home and start again—Greta in a sweater dress and tights. Tights! At the market, she reached directly for the plums and concords—her wiser internal radar insisting its time to move on. So we filled our basket with them. But, there was still corn. And tomatoes. Proof that summer really happened, and just days ago.  

Im grabbing hold of those ears, 50-cents a-piece regardless, shaving their kernels over warm bowls of risotto with Lacinato kale and young purple carrots. And, since it could very well be my last for a while, Im even pouring a chilled glass of rose for Sunday lunch.

I'll come around. Back at home from the park, where Id left the windows wide open out of summer habit, I cooked a pot of warm applesauce, heady with cinnamon, to warm us. Ill admit, its helping me turn the corner. But slowly.....slowly. One spoonful at a time. 

White Risotto with Corn, Carrots and Kale

Serves 2 to 4
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus for cooking vegetables
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups hot water {or organic chicken broth}
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus for garnish
1 to 2 ears corn, to preference, kernels shaved from the cob
1 bunch young heirloom carrots, trimmed and scrubbed, halved lengthwise if large
1 small bunch Lacinato (Tuscan) kale

Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it is soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil. Stir in the wine and cook until the wine has evaporated, 1 minute more. 

Stir in 2 cups of the hot water {or broth}, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and keep at a simmer, removing the lid to stir occasionally, until rice is al dente, about 20 to 25 minutes. Most of the liquid should be absorbed and the rice just cooked.

While the rice cooks, heat another tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the carrots and brown slightly in the oil. Add enough water to come about 1/3 of the way up the carrots and cook until just fork tender, but still deep in color. Add the kale and stir to wilt, 5 minutes more. Add the corn and cook until the kernels turn bright yellow but are still crisp, 1 minute more. Season the vegetables well and use a slotted spoon to remove them from the liquid.

Stir in another 1/2 cup hot cups of water to the risotto as needed; add the butter and cheese and stir. Stir in the vegetables, or serve the risotto in bowls topped with warm vegetables and coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. 

All Photos © Sarah Copeland 2012


a taste of helsinki + salmon soup

I’d like to think we are the type of family to throw their baby in the backpack and just travel—drive around France or hike to the Himalayas. We are, in spirit, but most of our trips are destinations to see family—mine in Chicago or California, or András' in Hungary. So, when booking our flights to Hungary this summer presented us with the opportunity for an 18-hour layover in Helsinki, we jumped on it. We’ll skip the car seat and travel light, umbrella stroller only, we decided, explore the city on foot and have one celebrated Nordic meal.

We arrived easily in Helsinki, but our luggage, stroller and all, got unintentionally sent all the way through to JFK. So, we’ll travel really light, I thought, casually.  I had diapers and PJ's for Greta in the backpack, and we had the nearly warm enough clothes on our back. All European hotels have feather duvets, so we'll be warm at night. Plus, to our utter delight, a rosy Finnish steward at the gate kindly lent us one of the dozens of umbrella strollers that never met their destination. Kitos. (Thanks).

I thought our choice of hotel was quite smart—affordable, chic and cozy (to say the least—Greta’s crib abutted our bed, though, per usual when we’re away from home, she slept with us anyway) but our timing in terms of feasting was poor. Inside the hotel, while Greta and András napped off our flight, I luxuriated over the online menus of three or four alluring eateries I’d researched (Grotesk, Rafla, Olo). But at the end of every query for a table, I got the same response— closed for the month of July.

The maître d’ confirmed. Most small restaurants with the kind of new-Nordic cuisine I sought closed in July for summer holiday. But there was Salve, a sailor’s retreat built when “ships were of wood and men of iron,” right on the water in walking distance from the hotel.  Sure, tourists go there, he said when I asked if it was a local spot, but their salmon soup is legendary among the locals first and foremost.

We borrowed two oversized umbrellas, wrapped Greta in András’ coat and marched the 8 blocks to the pier where we found the restaurant brimming with families, mostly Finns, round faces and shades of blond around every table, celebrating one occasion or another. It was jammed packed.

“Reservation Madame?” a flustered server asked, after we’d been standing there ten minutes. “We’re fully booked tonight.”

“Oh, no. But we’re just two and a baby.” I said in the same breath. “She can sit on our laps. We’ll eat fast. And we’re flexible. We can sit anywhere. Anywhere except outside in the rain.”

He seemed to sense my determination (was it that obvious?), so he promised he’d try and find us a tiny table somewhere. I turned to András—“no worries, it’s just a short wait.”

When you have a hungry baby and a grumpy husband, and it’s pouring down rain outside, most women don’t insist on waiting on the mercy of strangers for a bowl of salmon soup. But in times like these, I tend to error on optimism.

After chasing Greta around every table, befriending the bar maid for nibbles of pomme frites and making our presence known to the sole English-speaking server via smiles and nods each time he passed us, increasingly flush, we were seated.  Plates were stacked before us with instructions to head immediately to the salad bar, included in every meal, and load up on shredded beets bathed in cold crème and dill. 

And then came the salmon soup, served in pedestal bowls with stacks of rye bread. Simple. Flawless. Nourishing. And easy to repeat, I decided, at home with a little my own flair (using arctic char, tri-color baby potatoes and cherry tomatoes from the market)—my reward for patience, if you can call it that—a Nordic night right here in NYC.  


Salmon Soup

Serves 4

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 pound tri-color potatoes, halved
3 cups filtered water
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound arctic char or wild salmon, skinned, in bite-sized pieces
1 handful tomatoes yellow cherry tomatoes, halved, or 1 beefsteak tomato, chopped
1 1/2 cups 2 % milk
1/4 cup fresh chopped dill

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and light brown in some parts, about 4 minutes. Add the potato, water, salt and dill stems; bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, 15 to 20 minutes.  

Toss together the tomatoes with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of your best olive oil and set aside.

Reduce the heat to low and add the milk to warm through. Add the arctic char. Stir once and turn off the heat immediately to let the fish just cook through. Add the dill and stir.  Divide between soup bowls and spoon the seasoned tomatoes over each of each bowl, drizzling a little of the oil in each bowl. Serve warm with bread.

And, if you find yourself in Helsinki, here’s where to go:

Hietalahdenranta 11
00180 Helsinki

All Photos © Sarah Copeland 2012


something super for supper.....

photos by Romulo Yanes for Health Magazine
I have a lot to tell you about, but first, I'm having a portfolio day, filing back over all the work I did in the last year, and trying to put it all in once place. Very often I'm moving from one story or project to the next, and I too often forget to tell you all about it all. Plus, I was raised not to toot my own horn. But I'm super passionate about helping people find their way to good health, and there's no more delicious way I know to do it then through cooking with flavor and nutrient-loaded ingredients like sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, grapefruit, salmon, brown rice, spinach, walnuts, avocado and....

Oh dear me, I'm getting carried away. But what I'm trying to say is, this story, this batch of 7 Supermeals for 7 Days that I developed for Health Magazine is one I really think deserves a spot on your fridge--or wherever it is you post the recipes you plan to cook this week. These recipes are easy, incredibly satisfying and full of flavor. And, they're loaded with the kinds of ingredients (some might call them super foods) that deserve a full-time place at your table. 

Give them a try. The gorgeous images were shot by Romulo Yanes, the modest and uber-talented photographer behind the luxe images at Gourmet magazine for so many years. His work always captures all the texture and taste of a very good meal. 

Click the links of the recipe titles below for the full recipes. And if Wednesday is market day in your world,  quick, make your list and scoot on over for fresh poblanos, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes and arugula....all in season now. 

7 Supermeals in 7 Days


{highchair chronicles} turning two!

{Q and his favorite food - pasta! photos by Jennifer Martine on Instagram}

Babe: Quentin
Mama: Jennifer
Q's Birthday: September 17 

Remember the adorable blue-eyed boy named Quentin who I featured on The Highchair Chronicles when he first started solids? Well, I follow his mama, Jennifer Martine, on Instagram so I can keep up with them on the other coast where she's busy shooting any number of amazing cookbooks and Quentin is busy turning from a babe into a boy. I got a look at his latest feeding frenzy on her stream (above) and once again fell hard for those baby blues.  

Earlier this week Quentin turned two, a milestone that's just around the corner in our house. I thought it would be fun to check back in with Jen and see what's new in her world of feeding toddlers, and since she's an amazing food photographer too, exactly what she's been up to when she's not feeding Q. Here's our Q & A. 

{Make a wish. Q turns two. }

SC: What's different about feeding Quentin now that's he's two? 

JM: I would say the biggest difference is that I am having so much more fun feeding him. Being able to take him to a restaurant and have him eat what we are eating is just so much more fun.

SC: When we first spoke about feeding our babes, you said your rules were to create a formula of flavors that works, and to let him try everything, as long as it's safe. What are your new rules for feeding Quentin as a toddler? 

JM: I live by two mottos: 

1. If I give put a few good options in front of Quentin (if he is hungry) he will eat. And giving him the chance to choose, makes him feel grown up. Knowing I have already had my chance to choose makes me feel in control. 

2. I try to limit too much snacking so that he will be hungry when it's time for a meal, and make it a rule that we always sit down to eat. Taking the time to enjoy the food and be relaxed, I think helps him feel comfortable to eat at his own pace and not feel rushed. 
SC: What are Quentin's favorite foods, and is there anything that really surprised you that he absolutely loves? 

JM: Recently we started a tradition of going for sushi date on Friday night with my good friend and her toddler, Ruby who is Quentin's best buddy, (pictured in the shots below). He mostly eats the edamame, rice and dumplings. He will also eat some of the fish, but I limit the amount just to be on the safe side. The day he started picking up the bowl and drinking the wasabi and soy sauce, I was cracking up. He would get chunks of the wasabi in his mouth and stop to say "hot!" with a smile. But I guess I wasn't so surprised, I ate tons of spicy food while pregnant and just about every time I put something spicy in front of him that I think he won't like, he eats it right up--salsa, spicy tacos, spicy Asian food, you name it, he likes it. 

SC: Ooh, when Greta was tiny and just starting to taste, I dipped my finger in the soy sauce, forgetting there was wasabi, and let her suck on it. Her eyes got really huge but then she kept licking her lips. She still loves that flavor. 

Do you have a go-to fast-easy and healthy meal that's always a hit with Quentin? 

JM. Pasta, any kind of pasta, he absolutely loves it. Spaghetti and meatballs, macaroni, ravioli and it's a basic palate to add some veggies in there to make a complete meal. 

SC: Ditto! I don't make it very often, but I always get a big excited "Pasta!" squeal when I do. It is the perfect place to add in more vegetables and keep changing it up. And, I think it's a brilliant idea to do pasta feeding shirtless. We finally figured that out after Greta christened about half of her sweet summer dresses with marinara splatter. 

So when you're not feeding Quentin, what new projects are you working on? 

JM: I feel so lucky to say that I have been pretty busy these days, hoping the momentum will continue! Here are a few things: 
Salty Snacks by Cynthia Nims (Ten Speed, September 2012); 
The Inspired Vegan by Bryant Terry (DeCapo) and I will soon shooting his new book (Ten Speed); Best Lunchbox Ever by Katie Sullivan Morford of Mom's Kitchen Handobook (Chronicle Books, 2013); Asian Pickles by Karen Solomon (Ten Speed) and New Good Food by Margaret Wittenberg (Ten Speed). 

What an incredible lineup! I know there's at least one book on that list in particular I'm especially excited for. More on that soon. In the meantime, thanks to Jennifer, Quentin and Ruby for giving us a little window into your world today. 

Mama's, I love to hear from you. What are the top two rules you subscribe to for feeding your little ones, and where did you learn them? 

{Q and his bestie, Ruby, eating veggie purees at the park}


Weelicious Spinach Gnocchi Recipe

{photo by Maren Caruso}

The Weelicious Cookbook, authored by my friend Catherine McCord, hits bookstores today! In case you missed it, here's my Q & A with her yesterdayCatherine's smart (and efficient!) philosophy is one family, one meal. On these bite-size balls of spinach, ricotta and parmesan, three of my favorite flavors, I'm sold. We're making them a second time today (they're that good!) and Greta says if you know what's good for you (and your toddler), you will, too. Serve them for supper, and if you have the good fortune to have leftovers, in true Weelicious fashion, send them for lunch the next day. Congrats Catherine and thanks so much for sharing this recipe!


Spinach Gnocchi

Recipe Courtesy of Catherine McCord and Weelicious: One Family, One Meal

makes 40 small gnocchi balls

One 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
1 cup full-fat ricotta cheese
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting your hands while rolling

1.  Squeeze all of the water out of the spinach using your hands (do it in small handfuls over a bowl to make sure you don’t lose any spinach) and then again in a clean dish towel to remove as much liquid as possible (see Note).
2.  Place the spinach, ricotta cheese, 2/3 cup of the parmesan cheese, the egg yolk, and 2 tablespoons flour in a food processor and pulse until the spinach is in tiny pieces and the mixture is thoroughly combined.
3.  Dust your hands with a little flour so the mixture doesn’t stick to your hands.
4.  Take 1 teaspoon of the spinach mixture and roll it into a tiny ball. Place it on a plate covered with parchment paper. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
5.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the gnocchi in small batches - no more than several at a time - and cook for 3 minutes, or until they rise to the surface.
6.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi to a plate or bowl.
7.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve.

Note: This recipe will not succeed unless you remove all the water from the spinach so that it’s as dry as possible (see page 221 for how). If you do not drain the spinach well, the gnocchi will fall apart while cooking in the water.

To Freeze: After step 4, place the gnocchi on a baking sheet and freeze for 30 minutes. Transfer to a zip-top bag, label, and freeze for up to 4 months. When ready to cook, thaw at room temperature and start at step 5. 
My photo
New York City, United States
Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.