FIELD & FOREST

olive oil

roasted cauliflower and figs with burrata, mizuna, and almonds

autumn, dinner, lunch, main dishes, salads, winter, vegetarianRachel SandersComment

OMG I'M ALIVE.

Cue blogger apologizing to readers about how sorry she is that she took a break from blogging and that she didn't mean to be away so long blah blah blah.

I am sorry not sorry about being away for so long. There is a good reason, I promise, and all will be revealed (dramatically waves hands) in the next post. I just popped back in because my email let me know that my readership exploded last weekend, and I wanted to say hello to all of you folks old and new. Hello! I'm still figuring out how you all found me, but in spite of how infrequently Field and Forest has been updated as of late, I'm here! I still like talking about/writing about/photographing/eating food! And I appreciate you being here, too!

Here's a present from the archives of recipes and photographs on my computer in the form of a fall salad. I have been a little perturbed by the way in which people have been talking about salads on some food websites as of late, like how "you shouldn't balk at this salad, I promise it is delicious!" Stop. Talking. About. Salads. Like. They. Are. Not. Amazing. And like you think people won't believe you if you talk about how amazing salads are. SALADS ARE AWESOME. Always have been. Always will be.

And full disclosure: the photo of this salad is of a salad with mozzarella, not burrata. Burrata is noticeably creamier (and messier), and I think this recipe came from a time when life was messy and I needed to photograph something neat and reliable. But, if you can get it, burrata is a knock-your-socks-off luxurious addition to this salad and very much worth the mess.

roasted cauliflower with figs, burrata, mizuna, and almonds

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND FRESH FIGS WITH
BURRATA, MIZUNA, AND ALMONDS
serves 4 for a light meal or hearty side salad

Preheat your oven to 425˚F. Spread the cauliflower florets in a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle generously with olive oil, and toss with your hands to evenly coat the florets. Roast in the oven, stirring once or twice, until crispy and evenly golden (10-20 minutes depending on the size of your florets). Set aside to cool.

Toast the almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden brown, stirring frequently so that they don't burn. Set aside to cool.

Wash and slice figs into whatever shapes you prefer (wedges, halves, rounds). Slice mozzarella or burrata into enough slices that everyone has an equal amount of cheese on their plate (I've been using 6 slices for 2 people, and 8 slices for 4 people); if you are using especially creamy burrata, you may have an easier time cutting it in half, then in half again to make 4 quarters.

To plate: place the cheese on 4 plates, then divide your mizuna or arugula evenly over the cheese. Top with the cauliflower florets and sliced figs. Scatter the toasted almonds over the vegetables, fruit, and cheese. Drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil, some balsamic vinegar, and top each salad with a generous pinch of flaky sea salt and a grind or two of black pepper. Serve immediately.

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
Extra virgin olive oil (for roasting the cauliflower and dressing the salad)
1/2 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
1 pound ripe figs
1 pound burrata or buffalo milk mozzarella
a couple of handfuls of mizuna, arugula, or other peppery salad green
aged balsamic vinegar
flaky salt
freshly ground black pepper

beans with garlic, rosemary, and aleppo pepper

dinner, lunch, vegan, vegetarian, winter, autumnRachel SandersComment

Gah, my mouth starts watering whenever I think of these beans. These look innocuous, but they are heady with garlic and deeply savory with rosemary and pepper flakes. I sometimes can't believe how good they are considering that they're made with things that are usually just lying around! Pure magic.

The beans pictured here are Good Mother Stallard beans from Rancho Gordo. I love how these beans plump up when you cook them and how densely creamy they are on the inside, but you can make this with any cooked beans or canned beans you have around. You could simply add them to the oil with the garlic and cook until they're heated through, but I like taking them a little further so that some become golden and a little crispy on the outside. That's when things really start to get good.

After that, you can remove them from the heat and serve them straight from the pan as is, or give them another pinch of flaky salt and a squeeze of lemon for a bit of a lift (which is highly recommended!). If you can't stop eating them, then you know you've achieved perfection.

serves 2-4 as a side

This recipe easily scales up, but I wouldn't bother scaling it down, as the beans make fantastic leftovers when added to pasta or salads, or served with eggs. You can even make a slice of toast, top it with a few slices of avocado, add the beans and a fried egg and have a very respectable breakfast or brunch dish.

How to simply cook dried beans: place your beans in a large bowl and soak them overnight in plenty of cold water. Drain and rinse your beans to remove any grit, and put them in a large pot with plenty of cold water and a single bay leaf. Bring the water and beans to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover, cooking until the beans are no longer mealy and taste creamy, but not so long that they turn to mush (I start checking my beans 30-45 minutes after they started cooking, but the timing can vary greatly depending on the age of your beans). Once the beans are cooked, remove from heat, uncover, and let cool in their cooking water (this helps to keep them intact). Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.


1/2 pound Good Mother Stallard beans (or other beans that hold their shape once cooked), cooked, OR 2 cans cannellini beans
A generous glug (two tablespoons) olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic (or more, no need to limit yourself!), thinly sliced
2 large sprigs fresh rosemary
1 large pinch aleppo pepper flakes OR 1 small pinch standard red pepper flakes
Flaky salt, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste


In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat until it begins to shimmer and can easily be swirled around the pan. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds or until it begins to turn translucent and smells really, really good (don't let it brown here). Add the pepper flakes and rosemary, cook (stirring) for a few more seconds, and then add the beans. Stir everything together, raise heat to medium, and then let cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are heated through, the garlic is turning golden, and a few of the beans are beginning to turn crispy.

Remove from the heat, strip the leaves from the rosemary, and stir the leaves back into the beans. Finish with a generous pinch of flaky salt and a good squeeze of lemon, and serve immediately.


Note that if you use canned beans, you may have to stir them more gently while cooking, as canned beans have a greater tendency to fall apart when cooked in this way. But beans that have fallen apart make excellent bean mash, which is a lovely thing on its own, so it's not any tragedy should this happen to you.

gjelina's squash, olive oil, and chocolate cake

autumn, breakfast, desserts, winter, vegetarian, sweetRachel SandersComment

I woke up yesterday still wearing my Buddy Christ shirt from Halloween (guess who we were!) and feeling mildly sugar hungover + for reals hungover + a bit discombobulated by how bright it was given that my phone read 7:35 am. So I made coffee and decided to go through this month's Book of the Month, Gjelina, and find some things to make for you all.

This squashy chocolate-studded loaf was one of the very last recipes, and it looked so very pretty and easy enough that my brain could handle making it in spite of the metaphorical coat hanger crammed into my skull. You sift together the dry ingredients, mix up the wet ones, combine them briefly and fold in the chocolate, and pour the whole thing into a pan. If you've ever made pancakes or muffins or put together an IKEA bookcase, this recipe is going to be cake for you (bahaha).

I'm so sorry, all of the candy has made me especially weird today.

I, like most of America, am all about the pumpkin-spiced stuff, but I was somewhat surprised that one of my favorite parts of this recipe ended up being the glaze. It's a simple powdered sugar glaze that is fortified by olive oil, and good lord, is it delicious. I ate most of it out of the bowl and felt thoroughly sugared afterwards, but it was completely worth it. I think I might borrow it and use it to glaze this cake. Travis suggests omitting the glaze if serving this cake for breakfast, but don't do it, I beg of you. It's really fantastic, and it helps to cut through the richness of the cake (which, with the oil content and chocolate, is certainly up there, though in a very good way).

If anything, if you want it to be more breakfasty, halve the chocolate. I know, I can't believe I said that either.


GJELINA'S SQUASH, OLIVE OIL, AND CHOCOLATE CAKE
Makes 1 9x5-inch loaf - serves 8-12

The original recipe calls for you to make your own kabocha squash purée, which adds some depth of squashy flavor. I've adapted the recipe for using canned pumpkin, but if you'd like to make your own purée, there are instructions at the end of the recipe.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup canned pumpkin purée or homemade squash purée
3 eggs
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

FOR THE GLAZE:
1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted, plus more as needed
2 Tbsp hot water, plus more as needed
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp pepitas (raw, hulled pumpkin seeds), toasted in a dry skillet until nutty and browned
2 Tbsp crushed cacao nibs


Preheat the oven to 325˚F, and generously butter a 9x5-inch loaf pan.

Whisk (or sift) together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, olive oil, pumpkin purée, and eggs. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and whisk until just combined. (Adding the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients helps to prevent little dry pockets in the bottom of the bowl.) Fold in the chopped chocolate.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 75 to 90 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in its pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run an icing spatula or a thin knife carefully around the edges, and invert the cake from the pan. Re-invert the cake so that it is right-side-up and let cool on the rack for another 20 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate.

To make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk the confectioner's sugar with the water until smooth. Add more sugar and/or water until you have a glaze that is the consistency of honey. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly to combine.

Pour the glaze over the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Sprinkle with the pepitas and cacao nibs and let the glaze set completely (about 1 hour) before serving.


To make your own squash purée: Remove the seeds from a 1-pound piece of kabocha squash and drizzle the squash with olive oil. Place squash cut-side down on a baking sheet and roast in a preheated 425˚F oven for 30-45 minutes, until the squash is very soft and beginning to caramelize around the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool. Scrape out the soft flesh into the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until smooth.

Place the puréed squash on a large square of cheesecloth, and wrap into a tight bundle. Put the bundle into a colander, and place over a large bowl. Let drain at least 4 hours, or up to overnight. Twist the top of the bundle to squeeze out any additional liquid. Unwrap the drained squash, and measure out 1 cup of purée for the cake recipe. Cover and refrigerate any remaining purée for another use (may be stored for up to 5 days).

tomato and avocado salad with sweet corn and herb vinaigrette

dinner, lunch, salads, summer, vegetarianRachel Sanders2 Comments

I would wager a guess that 95% of you are really excited about this tomato and avocado salad, while 5% of you were immediately distracted by the denim tuxedo lurking behind that bowl of tomatoes. Lest ye judge me too harshly, note that it was laundry day. However, after wearing this outfit for a full afternoon, I can confidently say that this is a pretty rad shirt-pants combo. It is comfy, weather-appropriate for fall, and denim hides dirt well enough that you can't even tell that I was jumped by a chicken shortly before I took these photos.

But is this a fashion blog? Clearly not! Back to salad.

Richard and I went to the farmers' market this past weekend for the first time in two months, which is quite infrequent and very unlike us in general, but very like us when we are in camping mode. And the most gorgeous tomatoes are in season right now, all shapes, sizes, hues, varieties. Just color coming out of your ying yang. And we haven't been buying any for WEEKS, so we seriously need to make up for lost time.

This is a nifty little salad to keep in your back pocket for summer. You chop up some stuff, pile it on a plate, and drizzle a bit of vinaigrette over the whole thing. The point, I think, is to highlight all of those beautiful summer veggies when they are at their very best and most flavorful, so there's no drowning of anything in dressing. You could add other things if you like... grilled summer squash, lentils, fresh cheese, you name it. As is, this salad can double as a great topping (or relish, if chopped more finely) for grilled meat, or a nice brunch side for polenta or potatoes and eggs.

Ooo, just thinking about that is making me excited to go to bed already so I can wake up and make breakfast. BYE.

tomato and avocado salad with sweet corn and herb vinaigrette
serves 2 as a light main, or up to 4 as a side salad

1 small fresh shallot
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, or lemon juice
kosher salt
black pepper
2 pounds assorted heirloom and cherry tomatoes
1 ear sweet corn
1 just-ripe (not mushy) avocado
1 teaspoon dijon or whole grain mustard (optional - omit if using cilantro (see next ingredient))
1 tablespoon mixed chopped herbs, such as parsley, basil, cilantro, or chives
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
flaky salt, such as Maldon, to finish (optional, but delicious)

Thinly slice the shallot and place it in a small bowl with the white balsamic vinegar, a pinch of kosher salt, and a grind or two of black pepper. Set aside.

Slice the heirloom tomatoes into thick slices or wedges. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, quarter each half, and cut each quarter into 4 wedges or slices (wedges are easiest to cut if you remove the avocado skin first). Husk the sweet corn and slice the kernels away from the cob.

Alternate piling tomatoes and avocado slices on a serving plate, and scatter with the sweet corn. Pick the shallot slices out of the vinegar (reserving the vinegar), and scatter the shallot over the tomatoes, avocado, and corn.

Add the mustard (if using) and finely chopped herbs to the vinegar mixture and whisk to combine. Whisk in the olive oil until the vinaigrette emulsifies and thickens slightly. Taste the vinaigrette, adjust seasoning if needed, and spoon about half of it over the salad. Finish with a light sprinkle of flaky salt, and serve with the remaining vinaigrette and more flaky salt on the side.

yellow tomato and beet gazpacho

dinner, lunch, soups, summer, vegan, vegetarianFieldandForestComment
yellow tomato and beet gazpacho | field + forest

I still remember my first gazpacho, the way a person remembers her first crush or her first pair of really good jeans. I ate my inaugural bowl during the summer after my 15th birthday, during a brief foray into Ashland, Oregon, while en route to Canada. That was a trip of firsts. It was my first time reading a book written outside of the country in the exact edition in which it had been published (so that I learned about things like "ice lollies" and "servos" and "kelpies"), which I read while listening to the first cool CD I had ever purchased for myself, while eating what would be my first of many bowls of fresh blueberries with softly whipped cream (I don't believe I had ever before eaten a blueberry outside of a pancake). We were at a café in Ashland having an early dinner after a many-hour drive from California, when I ordered gazpacho. I don't know why I ordered it - maybe I was trying to seem worldly and fancy while serving my role as the token teenager on a family vacation - but I did. It came in a large, glass bowl set on a plate, with a sprig of parsley in the center, looking very much like tomato-based vegetable soup. I took a bite, and was shocked to find that it was COLD.

Cold soup held the same mystifying power over my 15 year-old self that molecular gastronomy holds over the modern day foodie, where you pay an exorbitant amount of money to eat something that might look like a gumdrop, but tastes like a cheeseburger. The visual didn't match the experience. It was weird and borderline uncomfortable. I somewhat suspected that I had ordered soup and had instead been brought a large bowl of salsa, minus the chips. But the strange cold soup was somehow also incredibly flavorful and delicious and refreshing, and the combination of my waning discontent and reluctant, but growing delight made it nearly impossible to stop eating. No bowl of soup had ever been so INTERESTING.

Please now understand that I have been trying desperately to create a gazpacho without ascribing all of the buildup and feelings that first bowl impressed in my brain. And suffice it to say that many recipes simply haven't cut it. But I have been thinking about a yellow gazpacho for weeks this summer, one different enough from my first that there couldn't be a direct comparison, and this recipe was the end result. It is fantastic, and stands up to the pressures of my first bowl quite gracefully, while earning itself its own new, fond memories. I think that it owes much of its greatness to the quality of the ingredients and its simplicity. Each ingredient sings, and each is heard.

Is it the kind of fantastic that one accredits to a crush or great pair of jeans?

I'll leave that decision up to you, but for me? I think it might be exactly that.

Yellow Tomato and Beet Gazpacho
Yield: approximately 7-8 cups, serves 4-6

Part of the goal here is to preserve the brilliantly yellow color of the beets and the tomatoes. Using aji amarillo (yellow pepper) paste or a yellow chile will add heat without compromising color. The white balsamic, too, will preserve the color while still adding the acidity necessary in making a good gazpacho. While changing these ingredients for a green chile or darker vinegar will slightly desaturate the yellow soup, the flavor will nonetheless remain extraordinarily bright and complex.

2 pounds yellow beets, roasted until quite tender, cooled, and peeled (I roast the beets wrapped in foil at 425˚F for 30-60 mins)
2 pounds yellow tomatoes
1 medium-large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped (about 1 pound)
2 cloves garlic
1-2 tablespoons aji amarillo paste, OR 1 medium-hot yellow chile, OR 1 jalapeño pepper
salt, to taste
white balsamic vinegar, to taste
2-3 cups water, divided

To garnish (optional): Cherry tomatoes, olive oil, Piment d'Espelette, microgreens

Equipment: A stand-up blender A sieve or fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl

Cut the beets into 1-inch chunks, and place in the carafe of a stand-up blender. Cut the tomatoes in half, and squeeze out the seeds and liquid ("tomato water") into the sieve or strainer over the bowl. Add the tomato halves to the blender with the beets. Sharply rap the edge of the sieve to help any remaining liquid from the tomato seeds drain into the bowl, then add the liquid in the bowl to the blender. Discard the tomato seeds (or give them to someone you know with chickens!).

Add the cucumber to the blender, along with the garlic, aji amarillo purée, and a large pinch of salt. Add a splash (about 2 teaspoons) of white balsamic vinegar. Pour in 1 cup of water, and blend on low speed until roughly puréed (add 1/2 cup additional water if needed to help the mixture blend). Increase the speed to high, and blend for about 5 minutes to further purée the soup (if you have a Vitamix, blend at between 6-8 on variable speed, keeping a close eye on the soup to make sure it doesn't begin to heat up and cook itself). How much your soup is puréed is up to you; as you can see, mine still has a little bit of texture, which I like, but feel free to blitz the hell out of your soup if that's your preference.

Once the mixture is puréed, add additional water if necessary until your desired soup consistency is reached (I like my soup not too thick and not too thin - if I brush the surface of the soup with a spoon, I can barely see the path the spoon made, and the path fades after a few seconds). Chill the soup for at least two hours, and up to overnight.

Before serving the soup, taste and add additional salt and white balsamic vinegar if necessary. Serve garnished with cherry tomatoes, olive oil, piment d'espelette, and microgreens.

Other ideas for garnishes: chopped, roasted yellow or chiogga beets; diced avocado; finely chopped herbs such as parsley and basil.