If you’re wondering how I ever came up with the idea to put pesto on potatoes, it’s like those old ads for you-know-what, where a guy walking the street eating a chocolate bar bumps into a girl with an open jar of peanut butter: a complete accident, but what an outcome! I was staring into the refrigerator as fingerling potatoes were coming out of the oven, and what should my eyes chance upon but a container of the pesto. Normally I’d use the pesto with pasta, but as I discovered that night, it’s also wonderful with potatoes.
Bread croutons are so yesterday. This recipe is incredibly easy to make; just some torn up kale coated with olive oil and salt that gets popped into the oven. The alchemy of the cooking takes away the kale’s bitterness, leaving you with an irresistible garnish on top of a bowl of soup.
This simple preparation is Japanese comfort food, good for everything from a cold to fatigue to an overworked digestive system. Miso is a traditional fermented food, made for centuries in Japan, with myriad health benefits. To avoid damaging the beneficial microorganisms it contains, never cook it. Shiro (white) miso is made from salted barley, rice, and soybeans inoculated with a fungus (Aspergillus oryzae) cultivated on rice and also used to make saké and soy sauce. The flavor of shiro miso is milder and sweeter than darker types made with more soybeans. All miso is salty and needs to be diluted with water or other ingredients until the salt level is right for you. This quick and easy preparation is one of my favorite soups.
Fresh salmon fillets are baked gently and smothered with a flavorful preparation of shiitake mushrooms. Quick and simple but also elegant, this is a main course for any occasion. The salmon must not be dry; be careful not to overcook it.
Okonomiyaki is a savory Japanese pancake (okonomi means “what you like” and yaki means “grilled” or “cooked”) made with cabbage and other vegetables and a variety of seafood and meats. In Japan it’s popular street food and is also served in restaurants, some of which let diners choose ingredients and cook the mixture on a personal hot plate. Too often, okonomiyaki is smothered with a thick, sweet sauce. I prefer this version with a miso mayo topping. I think you’ll find it to be a great comfort food, either as a starter or main course.