Simple Fare: Spring and Summer

Simple Fare: Spring and Summer

by Karen Mordechai


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781419724145
Publisher: ABRAMS
Publication date: 04/18/2017
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 526,664
Product dimensions: 9.60(w) x 12.80(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Karen Mordechai is an author, photographer, and founder of Sunday Suppers and the product line ILĀ. Karen’s work is regularly featured in Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Martha Stewart Living, the New York Times, Real Simple, and many others. Her first book Sunday Suppers: Recipes + Gatherings has received global acclaim, was a number-one-selling book on Amazon, and was voted by the New York Times Book Review as one of the top cookbooks of the year.

Karen resides with her husband and daughter in Los Angeles and works in Brooklyn and California.

Read an Excerpt

Simple Fare Spring Summer

By Karen Mordechai, Laura Dozier

Abrams Books

Copyright © 2017 Karen Mordechai
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4197-2414-5


Usage/ Market Variations

I hear from many cooks that they will follow a recipe to a T; they wil create their list and take on a recipe like it is a didactic thing.

Here, we are breaking the mold a bit. If you go to market with the intention to make an oyster mushroom risotto, but the mushrooms are not looking great, or there are no oyster mushrooms in season, you can make an alternate decision.

Instead of mushrooms, sage, and Pecorino for your risotto, choose fennel, Parmesan, and thyme. The idea here is to offer alternates, which we call "market variations," based on the season and also to give readers guidance on some flavor profiles that work. In this way, readers can feel liberated.

Each recipe is built with a few seasonal items, herbs, and flavorings. These original ingredients are underlined. Beneath the recipe title, you will find two or three alternate versions of the original ingredients. These variations can be substituted for the underlined ingredients and are listed in the same order as the items that they are replacing in the recipe title. Unless otherwise noted, the alternate ingredients can be prepared and incorporated into the finished dish in the same manner as the original.

To help you utilize the market variations in the book, there is a "Cook's Notes" section (see page 171) that offers measurements and additional information on how to prepare the variations. Be sure to reference that section for further assistance when making a recipe with a variant ingredient.



Cooking seasonally means supporting our local farmers and producers. It also means celebrating produce at its peak and best form.

There is a natural rhythm to the markets and the seasons. In winter, we stay closer to the home and cook warm and nurturing meals. Most of the produce is in the form of root vegetation, some greens, and limited fruits. As the weather warms, new and exciting produce starts to become available. Ramps, morels, and rhubarb make their appearance, as well as peas, alliums, and other vibrant greens. In summer we find berries and tomatoes and stone fruit. The market quite literally blooms. Of course, there are no hard-and-fast rules; some cities and climates offer varied seasonal produce, but this is the general format, give or take.

These recipes will guide you through the Spring/Summer offerings at your local markets, as they tend to unfold in different locales. As there is always a transition between seasons, you'll find that reflected in the meals. Slowly, as the weather warms, we begin to lighten our meals a bit, but the beginning of spring can still be chilly. We ease into the season. Some of the dishes are warm and soothing, while others are lighter, cooler options. As your personal surroundings change, your cooking often reflects those changes.



In this section, you will find the building blocks of our kitchen. These are the foundations of our meals, and great things to stock your larder with. At the beginning of the week, usually on a Sunday evening, I will make a stock, a grain, or pickles to keep in the refrigerator for the week. The beauty is having them at the ready on busy weekdays to enlighten or enhance your meals, but also to speed things up a bit. You will also find practical guidance: a guide to grain cooking and one on making eggs properly. These things are so useful to have in your culinary repertoire and will allow you to cook intuitively. Removing the guesswork lets you have more fun with the recipes in the following chapters.


half-day rye

Makes 1 loaf

We love an artisanal bread from a local bakery, but on a day when you have the urge to bake, this bread is a wonder — crusty on the outside and pillow-like in the interior. While a classic bread recipe can take several days to prepare, this one requires merely a half day to make and rise, and will become a go-to for everyday usage. Use high-quality milled rye flour for best results. Serve toasted and well buttered.

3¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons (340 g) rye flour
3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
3½ teaspoons (17 g) kosher salt
4 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, yeast, salt, and sugar until well combined. Add 3 cups (720 ml) room-temperature water and mix with a wooden spoon until a shaggy, sticky dough forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place to rest for 4 hours.

Butter a 16 x 4-inch (approximately 40.5 x 10-cm) extra-long loaf pan. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface. With floured hands, and handling the dough as little as possible, gently shape into an approximate 16 x 12-inch (40.5 x 30-cm) rectangle. Fold the rectangle into thirds, as you would a letter, to form a long, narrow loaf, about the size of the loaf pan. Carefully lower the dough into the loaf pan and cover loosely with a clean dish towel; place in a warm, draft-free place to rise for an hour, or until the loaf has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Remove the dish towel from the pan and, using a fine-mesh sieve, lightly dust the top of the loaf with flour. Transfer it to the oven and bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Transfer the bread to a wire rack and let cool in the loaf pan for 5 minutes. Invert the pan to remove the bread and allow to cool completely.

Storage - Best enjoyed immediately. If storage is necessary, keep in a sealed bag.

Guide to Cooking Grains

Healthful grains are a great thing to have on hand. I tend to make a pot weekly and keep it handy to add to an everyday bowl, salad, or even soup. It makes the meals hearty and enriching. Choosing well-milled quality grains is important for both nutrition and taste. You may use water or any stock of your preference to infuse additional flavor.

In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the grain of your choice and toast in the saucepan until lightly golden and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the water (or stock) and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for the time indicated by the chart. Remove from the heat, leave grains covered for 5 minutes, and fluff the grains before serving or using in a recipe. If you are making farro, simply drain any excess water before serving. If you are cooking more than 1 cup of a grain, use a ratio of 1 cup grain to 1 tablespoon olive oil to toast it.

Grain to water (or stock) ratio:

1:1¾ cups (170 g:420 ml)
25 minutes

1:3 cups (200 g:720 ml)
30 minutes

1:2 cups (140 g:480 ml)
15 minutes

short-grain brown rice
1:2 cups (190 g:480 ml)
45 minutes

long-grain white rice
1:1½ cups (180 g:360 ml)
20 minutes

Eggs, a guide

A beautifully prepared egg is a staple in many of our bowls, toasts, and other dishes, enriching a meal with protein and creaminess. When poaching, the goal is to achieve the perfect oval: white on the outside, oozy on the inside. For frying or boiling, getting the yolk to the preferred doneness determines its perfection. These are our methods, tried and true for both single and multiple preparations.

fried, Makes 1 egg

1 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
1 egg

In a small nonstick sauté pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Swirl the pan so its surface is completely coated. Crack the egg into a ramekin and gently slide it from the ramekin into the middle of the pan. Cook until the white is opaque and set, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a spatula, gently flip the egg and cook on the second side to the desired doneness, about 30 seconds longer for a runny yolk, 1 to 2 minutes for a partly set yolk, and 3 to 5 minutes for a fully cooked yolk. Test for doneness by very gently pressing the yolk once the egg is flipped. A runny yolk will feel very delicate and will ripple beneath your finger, a partly set yolk will have a slight resistance, and a fully set yolk will feel firm.

To fry multiple eggs, follow the same method, using a pan large enough that the eggs can fit comfortably without touching and enough butter so that the pan's entire surface is lightly coated. Crack each egg into a ramekin and slide them into the pan one at a time.

poached, Makes 1 egg

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 cold egg

Fill a small saucepan halfway with water and add the vinegar. Bring to a slow simmer over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low. Crack the egg into a ramekin. Using a wooden spoon, gently swirl the water so it creates a whirlpool. Count to five before carefully sliding the egg into the middle of the swirling water. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, making sure that the water temperature stays low enough that bubbles do not break on the surface. Carefully remove the egg using a slotted spoon and set on a paper towel to remove excess water.

To poach multiple eggs, use a large, shallow saucepan, and follow the same method, skipping the whirlpool step. Crack each egg into a ramekin and gently slide them into the water one at a time, spacing them far enough apart that they do not stick to one another.

boiled, Makes 1 egg

1 gg

Bring a small saucepan of water to boil over high heat. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, carefully lower the egg into the boiling water and cook until it has reached the desired doneness, as referenced in the chart on the right. Gently remove the egg and run under cold water to peel.

Egg boiling times:

soft | runny yolk
4 to 5 minutes

medium | partly set yolk
6 to 8 minutes

hard | fully cooked yolk
9 to 10 minutes

To boil multiple eggs, follow the same method, using a saucepan large enough to hold the eggs in one layer without crowding.

Garlic Confit

thyme lemon peel

Makes 1 quart (1 L)

The foundation of many of our dishes has an aromatic base, consisting of herbs and garlic as the building blocks of flavor. This garlic confit takes a bit of preparation, but it will keep in your refrigerator for weeks and will become an invaluable daily tool. It can be used in place of garlic in any recipe and adds smoky, roasted notes for a bit more complexity. We also love cooking with the garlic oil itself, and using it on salads, toasts, and pastas.

1 lemon
7 heads garlic, cloves separated and peeled
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3 cups (720 ml) olive oil, plus more if needed

Preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C).

Using a vegetable peeler, remove all the yellow peel from the lemon, avoiding the bitter white pith. Drop the peels into a small ovenproof baking dish and add the garlic and thyme. Pour the olive oil over to cover, adding more as needed to fully submerge the garlic. Cover and bake until the garlic cloves are golden and tender, about 2 hours.

Remove from the oven, uncover, and let cool. Transfer the garlic and oil to a sealed container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Storage - Refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 2 to 3 weeks.

Basic Vegetable Stock

Makes 2 quarts (2 L)

Making a homemade stock is a great way to infuse flavors and seasonings into many of your dishes and soups. We like to keep a few pints in the freezer and defrost them as needed. A nice, light, flavorful vegetable version is great for the warmer months of spring and summer. Feel free to use any combination of vegetables and herbs you may have in your refrigerator.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 onions, quartered
1 carrot, halved
1 fennel bulb, quartered
5 white mushrooms, halved or quartered
4 or 5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 small bunch parsley
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 leek, coarsely chopped and well washed
5 garlic cloves, smashed

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add all the ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften but don't yet brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add 4 quarts (3.8 L) cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the stock has reduced by half, 1 to 1½ hours. Strain the liquid, discarding the solids, and transfer the stock to storage jars.

Storage - Refrigerate in sealed containers for 3 to 4 days or freeze for up to 1 year.


Makes 1 pint (480 ml)

Ideas for ingredients to pickle


grape / apple / peach / blackberry / Anjou or Seckel pear / nectarine / elderberry / cherry / rhubarb / apricot / plum / husk cherry / bayberry / gooseberry / huckleberry / wild strawberry


green tomato / cucumber / cabbage / fennel / poblano pepper / carrot / cauliflower / green bean / mushroom / turnip / chile pepper / beet / corn / radish / shallot / pearl onion / ramp / spring onion


golden raisin / currant / watermelon rind / edible flower / chive blossom

We are constantly pickling, and there is (almost) no limit to what one can pickle. This basic brine can be used to quick-pickle fresh fruits, vegetables, and other items, like raisins and currants. Our refrigerator is always stocked with a few pickled items, and they add an easy crunch, color, and acidity to any dish: salads, sandwiches, toasts, eggs, etc. We've also included a list of all the items we love to pickle using this basic brine, plus a few minor variations. You can certainly add other spices, herbs, and peppercorns to the pickling liquid for extra flavor. Experiment and find your own way. This recipe will make enough brine to pickle 1 cup (240 ml) of the food of your choice. If you'd like to pickle a larger quantity, simply double (or triple) the brine ingredients and prepare as directed. Just ensure that the ingredient to be pickled is properly covered in the brine.

1½ cups (360 ml) white wine vinegar
¼ cup (50 g) sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 cup (240 ml) fruit, vegetable, or other item to be pickled (see left)

Combine the vinegar, ½ cup (120 ml) water, sugar, salt, bay leaf, peppercorns, mustard seeds, and coriander seeds in a 2-quart (2-L) saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low; cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Pack the item to be pickled into a clean quart-sized (960-ml) jar. Pour the brine into the jar and let cool. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, stirring gently once or twice.

Storage - Refrigerate in a sealed jar for up to 1 month.

Pickled Red Onion

Makes 1 cup (240 ml)

We use these pink pickles liberally. They are traditionally meant for tacos but are equally good on avocado toast, in salads, and even on soups.

1¼ cups (300 ml) distilled white vinegar
Juice of 2 limes
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ cup (50 g) sugar
1 large red onion, thinly sliced

In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the onion and bring to a simmer over low heat. Place the onion in a large bowl and carefully pour the brine over the onion. Let cool, then transfer to a clean pint-sized (480-ml) jar; cover and refrigerate.

Storage - Refrigerate in a sealed jar for up to 1 month.

Pickled Mustard Seeds

Makes approximately 2 cups (480 ml)

These little pops of pickle are a beautiful topping for salads and sandwiches; their tangy crunch adds a little bit of surprise to the dish.

1 cup (160 g) mustard seeds
1 bay leaf
2 cups (480 ml) white wine vinegar
½ cup (100 g) sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt

In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients and % cup (180 ml) water and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook until the seeds are plump and tender, about 1 hour. If too much liquid evaporates, add water as needed to keep the seeds completely covered. Let cool, then transfer to a clean pint-sized (480-ml) jar; cover and refrigerate.

Storage - Refrigerate in a sealed jar for up to 1 month.



Breakfast, celebrated as the most important meal of the day, can vary so much in approach. Some days a bowl of yogurt or oats will do; others call for a heftier affair. Taking the time to start your day with self-care and nourishment is a wonderful ritual. We are constantly inspired by ingredients, colorful foods, and beautiful, clean flavors to create morning meals for all kinds of days. Some of these are simple breakfasts for one, while others will serve a small crowd — just multiply (or divide) as needed.

Poached Eggs

black quinoa
toasted buckwheat
fermented kraut

Serves 1

Market Variations

To make the market variations, replace the underlined ingredients with the items listed below. For more detail, see page 174.

Variation 1

white quinoa / puffed amaranth / yogurt / pickled onion / black sesame

Variation 2

farro / puffed millet / crème fraîche / avocado / hazelnut

Simple, healthful, and protein-rich, this dish is a great way to start the day. It also works well as a light lunch. We often have a cooked grain at the ready in our refrigerator, making the assembly even easier during the week. We use a local brand of fermented kraut that we love, but you can also use a homemade one.

¼ cup (40 g) uncooked buckwheat
¼ cup (60 ml) kefir
½ cup (100 g) cooked black quinoa (page 25)
¼ cup (25 g) fermented kraut
2 eggs, poached (page 26)
2 tablespoons pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

Arrange the buckwheat in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until lightly golden and fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Pour the kefir into a shallow bowl. Spoon the quinoa and kraut along the sides of the bowl and arrange the eggs on top. Top with the toasted buckwheat and pepitas.


Excerpted from Simple Fare Spring Summer by Karen Mordechai, Laura Dozier. Copyright © 2017 Karen Mordechai. Excerpted by permission of Abrams Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Introduction, 10,
Usage/Market Variations, 15,
Seasonality, 18,
Essentials, 20,
Breakfast, 34,
Toasts, 62,
Bowls, 78,
Plates, 86,
Vegetables, 100,
Mains, 112,
Snacks, 132,
Desserts, 148,
Dairy, 162,
Cook's Notes, 171,
Your Notes, 181,
Basic Ingredients, 186,
Sources, 188,
Index, 189,
Acknowledgments, 192,

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