The much-anticipated debut from Tara O’Brady, Seven Spoons features distinctive, crowd-pleasing recipes; engaging, writerly essays; and the same stunning photography that has earned her website a devoted following.
Tara O’Brady was one of the earliest food bloggers to enter the scene, and now, nearly ten years after she first started Seven Spoons, she has become one of the most highly regarded and unique voices in the culinary arena. In her debut cookbook, O’Brady shares stories and recipes from her Canadian home—fresh, ingredient-driven food that is easy to make yet refined. Recipes like Roasted Carrots with Dukkah and Harissa Mayonnaise, Braised Beef Short Ribs with Gremolata, and Plum Macaroon Cake are wholesome, hearty, and showcase the myriad culinary influences at work in O’Brady’s kitchen. Her evocative writing and gorgeously simple, elegant photography has earned her accolades from Saveur magazine, the Daily Mail, and more. Impeccable food photography and a lavish package round out this beautiful, personal collection.
Tara O’Brady signs copies of Seven Spoons: My Favorite Recipes for Any and Every Day at Omnivore Books on Food on Sunday, May 10 from 3 to 4 p.m. Free.
Reprinted with permission from Seven Spoons, by Tara O’Brady, copyright © 2015, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photography copyright © 2015 by Tara O’Brady. You can purchase Seven Spoons from your local bookstore or through our affiliate links with Amazon or Indiebound.
Serves 4 to 6
This might smoke up the kitchen, but it is worth it. The five-spice powder is fused to the steak with the blistering heat of the pan, making for a raspy, sizzling crust. It is finished with a quick, flavorsome sauce of herbs, chiles, and rice vinegar, rounded out by toasted sesame oil. The anointing works like a late-addition marinade, not only dressing the meat but also seeming to keep it incredibly soft and tender.
- 1 bone-in rib steak, 2 inches (5 cm) thick, weighing approximately 1½ pounds (680 g)
- 1½ teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
- 1 teaspoon medium-grain kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1-inch (2.5 cm) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 small red chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
- 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons tamari
- 1 teaspoon natural cane or light brown sugar
- 3 green onions, white and light green parts only, minced
- 2 large handfuls of cilantro, leaves and tender stems, chopped
Season the steak all over with the five-spice powder, salt, and pepper. Dab on the sesame oil with a brush.
Place a large cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is good and hot, lay in the steak. Let it cook, undisturbed, for 2 to 3 minutes, then check for even color and move the steak around if necessary. Keep shuffling until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes more. Flip the steak, and continue to cook until the second side is equally charred and cooked to your liking. (An instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part, without touching bone, should read 120°F [50°C] for medium-rare, and will take approximately 3 to 5 minutes after flipping to the second side.) Set the steak aside and reduce the heat to medium-low.
Add the garlic, ginger, and chile to the skillet and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir together the rice vinegar, tamari, and sugar, then pour it into the pan, scraping up any browned bits and allowing the liquids to reduce, about 1 minute. Scrape the sauce into a small bowl with half the green onions and half the cilantro.
Present the steak whole at the table, or slice across the grain and arrange on a platter. With either, pour some of the sauce over the meat and shower with the reserved green onion and cilantro. Offer the rest of the sauce alongside.
MUSHROOMS AND GREENS WITH TOAST
The title alone sells this one. Part Welsh rarebit, part fondue, and totally crave-worthy. The measurements need not be exact and, so you know, chunks of leftover roasted winter squash or other hearty vegetables also take well to such treatment, and can stand in, or be added to accompany, the mushrooms and greens.
On the topic of the mushrooms, I like to tear the mushrooms into reasonable bite size; it is quick enough work, and somehow meditative in its repetition, plus I think many mushrooms look best when spared the blade. Chanterelles, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms, for example, are especially attractive in rough pieces that preserve their natural shape. If pressed for time, slice or chop the mushrooms instead, but still let them be a bit irregular if you can.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- 1½ pounds (680 g) mixed mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
- 2 (1-inch/2.5 cm) slices from a large, crusty boule
- 2 cloves garlic or 1 shallot, minced
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 fresh red chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
- Medium-grain kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 ounces (170 g) chopped greens such as kale, chard, spinach, or nettles
- 9 ounces (255 g) good melting cheese, thickly sliced (see Note)
Melt the butter in the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Tear the mushrooms into bite-size pieces and add to the pan. Cook, stirring regularly, until the mushrooms have given off their water and started to turn golden brown, 8 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, grill or toast the bread.
Once the mushrooms look nice, add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Still stirring, drip the vinegar around the pan. Add most of the chile and season with salt and pepper. If using hearty greens that need some cooking, dump them in now. Move them around until wilted. After around 5 minutes, rip the bread into irregular croutons and push them into the vegetables. Lay pieces of cheese atop everything. Turn the heat down to medium-low, pop on a lid, and let the cheese melt, maybe 5 minutes, depending on the cheese. Sprinkle with the rest of the chile, hand out forks, then bring the pan to the table.
Note: The cheese doesn’t have to be one kind in particular. The point of this is using what’s around—anything from a young chèvre to a robust, oozy blue. As long as it melts well, it’s fair game. Fresh mozzarella or burrata, Taleggio, and Fontina are specifically good.
CHIA PUDDING WITH FRUIT AND GOLDEN HONEY ELIXIR
This pudding takes advantage of how chia seeds can gel a liquid (because of their soluble fiber); it’s a bit creamy, with an understated vanilla note. I put up a batch in the evening, and it is ready for me come breakfast. I serve it with fruit, seeds and nuts, and sometimes toasted oats, but truly, the star of this recipe is the turmeric-infused honey I pour over the top—somewhat cheekily christened Golden Honey Elixir. Turmeric root, unmistakably ochre and persuasively astringent, is often used in Ayurvedic medicine for its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiseptic properties. It is believed to help with brain function, digestion, and heart disease. For the elixir it is combined with honey, apple cider vinegar, and ginger, all healing and preventive powerhouses on their own. The idea behind this potent slurry comes from two sources: the turmeric paste prescribed for myriad of ailments in alternative medicines, and Golden Milk, a traditional restorative sip made with milk, ginger, and turmeric.
Even if you don’t go to the trouble of making the chia pudding, do try the elixir, which works perfectly well as a topping for yogurt, as a drink (stirred into hot, not boiling, water, or gently heated and stirred into milk), as the base for salad dressings (especially ones with root vegetables), in smoothies, and even on vanilla ice cream.
- 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) Greek-style plain or vanilla yogurt
- 2 to 3 tablespoons chia seeds, depending on desired firmness
- 3⁄4 cup (180 ml) unsweetened milk (dairy or nondairy both work)
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
- Generous 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- Fine-grain sea salt
- 1 cup (240 ml) Greek-style plain or vanilla yogurt
- 2 to 4 tablespoons Golden Honey Elixir (recipe follows)
- Pinch of fine-grain sea salt
- Fresh fruit, such as sliced peaches, sliced strawberries, or red currants
- Chopped nuts, such as pistachios or almonds
To make the pudding, in a bowl, whisk the yogurt and chia seeds until smooth. Slowly add the milk, followed by the sweetener, vanilla, and a pinch of salt, stirring all the while. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Stir again before serving.
When ready to serve, stir the pudding, then fold in the 1 cup (240 ml) yogurt once or twice. Drizzle the Golden Honey Elixir and salt on top, then fold once more. Divide between plates, along with your toppings of choice. Eat straight away.
Golden Honey Elixir
Makes about 1 cup (240 ml).
- 3⁄4 cup (180 ml) honey, preferably raw
- 3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, preferably raw and unfiltered
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- About 1⁄8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Stir all the ingredients together in a jar until smooth. Let stand for at least 30 minutes before using, or cover and refrigerate. Use within 1 week.
Note: Chia pudding made with whole seeds has a texture similar to that of tapioca pudding—that is to say, gelatinous spheres suspended in weighty liquid. Use ground chia for a smoother consistency, if desired.
If you happen to have frozen raspberries, they’re pretty spectacular as an addition. Bash them in a sealed storage bag with the bottom of a sturdy glass, so they’re in bits but not pulverized. The icy nubs burst like pomegranate seeds when eaten and streak the yogurt in fuchsia ripples.
Tara O’Brady started Seven Spoons to chronicle her culinary life at home in Southern Ontario where she lives with her husband and two sons. She has a regular column in UPPERCASE magazine and appears periodically in the wildly popular quarterly Kinfolk. She has written for or worked with The Globe and Mail, BonAppetit.com, Saveur.com, PBS.com, Parenting.com, StyleAtHome.com, Design*Sponge, Oprah.com, and more.