#111 | Cooking With Scraps
Cooking With Scraps
Turn Your Peels, Cores, Rinds, And Stems Into Delicious Meals
By Lindsay-Jean Hard
Intro: Welcome to the Cookery by the Book Podcast, with Suzy Chase. She's just a home cook in New York City, sitting at her dining room table talking to cookbook authors.
Lindsay-Jean: I'm Lindsay-Jean Hard, and my new cookbook is, Cooking With Scraps. Turn your peels, cores, rinds and stems into delicious meals.
Suzy Chase: When did it first dawn on you to turn your peels, cores, rinds and stems into delicious meals?
Lindsay-Jean: Well, it was when I was still working at Food52.com. We were having an editorial brainstorm and someone brought up Gabriel Hamilton's new at the time cookbook, Prune, and the fact that it had a garbage column in it. They said, "We should do a column around that." I was like, "Oh my gosh, me, I have to have that column." I just, I don't know what it was, but something struck me about. For a couple years there, I had a column called Cooking With Scraps. I would hunt through the Food 52 recipe archives to find recipes that the Food 52 community members were sharing that made smart use of underutilized produce parts and other odds and ends. I just learned so much from the community at that time that I just wanted to share it with everyone. That's where this cookbook came from.
Suzy Chase: Talk a little bit about shooting the photography for this cookbook. Was it hard to make rinds and bits of this and that cookbook ready?
Lindsay-Jean: Well, Penny De Los Santos did all the photography for this, and she obviously did an incredible job, as did the styling team that worked on it. But I really think that it helps to show people that these aren't strange things and you're not cooking with garbage. They're just regular ingredients and they can be just as beautiful as anything else.
Suzy Chase: I read that you don't think that there are any perfect recipes. How come?
Lindsay-Jean: I just don't think that any recipe is above messing with to make it appeal to you. I mean, there are incredible recipes that I make and repeat and love, but I still tweak and play with them. I think that everyone should feel empowered to do the same thing.
Suzy Chase: In this cookbook, even salts and sugars don't go to waste. Since you have an entire shelf devoted to salt in your kitchen, please let me know what your favorite salt is.
Lindsay-Jean: Well, after reading Samin Nosrat's, Salt, Fat Heat Acid, I am a full convert to diamond crystal. But I still have a full shelf of salt and I still use a variety of it.
Suzy Chase: I live in the West Village in New York City near this shop called, The Meadow. It's so intimidating 'cause they have a million different salts.
Lindsay-Jean: They're just so fun. I think that's what's fun about the [inaudible 00:02:57] crisper salts in my cookbook. When you're using these scraps to be able to create new salts, they just become really pretty. They're different shades of color, and they have great flavor to them.
Suzy Chase: Throughout the book, you have included little sections called, Clean Out the Crisper. Talk about that?
Lindsay-Jean: Yeah, so these are looser recipes. They're not always necessarily using a scrap per se, like the other ones are. They're more to help you clean out what's left in your fridge. For example, there's quick pickles, there's tempura, there's strata, which along with frittatas and other egg dishes are basically the ultimate in clean out your fridge, since you can add in vegetables and stale bread, and leftover bits of meats and cheeses. There's a variety of different options.
Suzy Chase: I love your tempura idea, describe that.
Lindsay-Jean: Yeah, well a lot of the recipes in here have a Japanese influence due to spending a couple of years in Japan. One of my favorites from that time is tempura. It's just a great way to put to use whether you have one pepper and a potato and just a few odds and ends. Giving them this awesome crispy tempura and then dipping them in soy sauce or maybe a flavored salt.
Suzy Chase: There are so many foods we can freeze. Give us some foods we absolutely shouldn't freeze.
Lindsay-Jean: I tend to not freeze dairy as often. You definitely can freeze most dairy, but I think the dairy products that I tend to have most often are sour cream, and cheese. I will freeze cheese rinds for forage fort, which is in the book. If I want cheese to stay ... If you're freezing cheese, the texture isn't gonna stay the same so you got to be willing to use it in something like a dip or baking it or something. You're not going to want to just slice the cheese and eat it after you're freezing it.
Suzy Chase: Ew, no. Food storage always puzzles me. What are some food storage tips for, let's say, greens, herbs, onions and berries?
Lindsay-Jean: For greens, I try to not wash them until you're going to use them, because you'll get a longer life out of them. But, I know that sometimes that's hard because you might be more likely to use something if you can pull it out and it's clean, and you can eat it right away. If you want to wash them first, then I like to store them loosely wrapped, like in a tea towel or paper towels, and then in a plastic bag or some other storage container. You could also wash them in a salad spinner and just store them right in there and they'll keep pretty well in there too.
For berries I like to give them a vinegar bath first, so just a mix of a little bit of vinegar and water, then rinse them off. That keeps them so much longer than if you just put those straight in the fridge. In general I don't wash stuff first, but berries are one really good exception to that. For herbs, soft stem ones like parsley, basil, dill, I treat those just like I would a bouquet of flowers. I put them right into a glass of water. You can keep them on the counter at room temperature out of direct sunlight. Sometimes with basil, I will loosely cover them with a plastic bag. It just helps it stay a little bit longer.
Then for woodier stemmed herbs like rosemary, I treat those more like I would greens. Wash them and then wrap them again in a tea towel and put them in a storage container. Then for onions, cool, dry, ideally dark place. I often just keep them in a basket away from potatoes. But I did learn trick from a Food 52 community member, that you can store them in the leg of nylons or pantyhose. Put one in and then tie a knot, and then put another one in and tie another knot. You still want to keep them in a cool, dark place, but it helps them last longer because they've got great air flow around them, and you can just snip off one at a time.
Suzy Chase: Recently I read this stat that we're throwing away 165 billion dollars worth of food every year. Do you think we, as a country, have been throwing away more or less food in the past few years?
Lindsay-Jean: I hope that we're starting to become more aware of this problem, because those numbers are just so staggering. I mean, 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes uneaten, which is just mind boggling. I feel like the more that we're all talking about this that there's becoming more awareness around the issue. I hope that we're starting to shift in a better direction.
Suzy Chase: What is Aquafaba?
Lindsay-Jean: Aquafaba is the liquid that comes from cooking beans. It could be the liquid that you're cooking it in if you have dried beans at home. If you haven't worked with Aquafaba before, I think it's easier to start with the liquid that comes from a can of beans that you would normally drain off and rinse it down the drain. It's really a cool ingredient. It behaves just like egg whites do, almost. You can whip it up and use it in baked goods. I use it in brownies in the cookbook. You can also turn it into things like mayonnaise or meringues.
Suzy Chase: Now, I always thought that carrot tops were poisonous.
Lindsay-Jean: Yeah, it's a persistent myth. I think perhaps they are a little bit bitter. You definitely want to blanch it before you use them. They are not poisonous though. It's possible that if you ate pounds and pounds and pounds of them you could get sick, but I think that's the case with lots of different foods.
Suzy Chase: What do you think is the most underutilized, underappreciated produce part?
Lindsay-Jean: I feel like broccoli stalks are finally getting some of the love that they deserve. Maybe kale stems, because I feel like that's one that comes up a lot in recipes of the cut and discard. We're always told to discard parts of vegetables. In the kale stem, that one happens a lot. But, it's perfectly edible. In the cookbook I'm blanching them so they get really tender, and then blending them into hummus. You wouldn't even know they're there, but you're still getting the fiber from the kale and some other nutrients as well, I'm sure. It's just a regular, delicious hummus but you're not wasting part of the plant.
Suzy Chase: I really share disdain for kale with Mimi Sheridan. Do you think it's here to stay?
Lindsay-Jean: I hope it's here to stay 'cause I love it. I bet that even you would like this hummus because it doesn't taste like kale.
Suzy Chase: Okay. That's my kind of kale. You wrote, "Everyone has a crisis ingredient, something that can help you pull a meal together." What would your crisis ingredient be?
Lindsay-Jean: Chickpeas for sure. I love them, and it's a problem because my husband hates them. My go-to ingredient is one that he does not enjoy. But I'm doing the cooking, so it's just unfortunate for him sometimes.
Suzy Chase: Oh, darn.
Suzy Chase: One of the most interesting recipes that caught my eye was, coffee ground cashew butter. Coffee grounds, really?
Lindsay-Jean: Yes. I think this one along with banana peels are going to be the two most surprising ingredients for people. But I was actually in New York at Food 52, and I was trying ... One of my colleagues had this jar of peanut butter that was like coffee and cocoa nib peanut butter. I tried a bite and it was so good. I just had this thought of, "I wonder if I can do this with coffee grounds?" It was delicious. The coffee grounds still have so much of that flavor left. Then I started playing around with it more and it didn't quite make it into the book, but it is on Food52.com for a French Silk pie that has coffee grounds in the crust along with some chocolate cookies. Then I also used coffee grounds to infuse whip cream to make a topping. They still have so much of that coffee flavor.
Suzy Chase: In this cookbook you mention a lot of Food 52 staff members. Talk about your time at Food 52 and your column.
Lindsay-Jean: Anyone who's familiar with Food 52, which is a food and lifestyle website that has pretty much anything a home cook could ever want or need or dream about. If you're in the food world and you're familiar with them, it seems like it would be a dream job and it definitely was. The six years that I spent there, I got to know so many of, not only the staff, but also the incredible community that Food 52 has built and brings together.
That column ... I mean, I learned a lot from the community members throughout my time there, but I especially learned a lot about cooking from writing that column, just because I would be searching for these recipes and finding these smart ways that they were using these ingredients. Then I felt empowered to experiment from there and use those ingredients and come up with my own recipes. I hope that I'm able to help other people do the same thing.
Suzy Chase: One of your favorite things is to ask home cooks what they make when they only have 20 minutes and need dinner. What would you recommend out of this cookbook?
Lindsay-Jean: I would recommend, I think probably the egg salad sandwiches with celery hearts and leaves. That one comes together and is a sandwich so it can be it's own meal. A lot of the book is sides and appetizers, and not always full dinner meals. But they are all easy and approachable recipes with short ingredient lists.
Suzy Chase: The other night I made your recipe for Brothy Beans with Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Rind. Talk about how this recipe was inspired by Food 52 founder's, Meryl Stubbs.
Lindsay-Jean: Yeah. Well as you said, a lot of my recipes have been inspired both by staff members and by the community members. But this one comes ... It's based off of one of Meryl's recipes that I really love. I think it was when she was sharing recipes that she was cooking for her daughter. Hers had more tomato in it, I think. But I love the idea of having a meal based around brothy beans. Using a Parmesan rind just boosts the flavor so much, of a pot of beans or a pot of soup. It's a really easy way to take simple ingredients up a notch.
Suzy Chase: I think the rind made the broth so creamy and salty.
Lindsay-Jean: Yes, yeah. I love it.
Suzy Chase: Now, to my segment called The Last Meal. If you had to place an order for your last supper, what would it be?
Lindsay-Jean: Let's see. I would have a Zingerman’s Enough Already bagel, which is their version of an everything bagel, with Zingerman’s Creamery cream cheese, and slices of fresh tomato just off the vine, and a Bloody Mary.
Suzy Chase: I didn't see that one coming, "And a Bloody Mary."
Suzy Chase: That's so funny.
Lindsay-Jean: Yep. I'm choosing the breakfast of champions for my last meal.
Suzy Chase: Well, you have opened up a whole new world of thinking for home cooks. Thanks so much for coming on Cookery by the Book Podcast.
Lindsay-Jean: Oh, thank you so much for having me.
Suzy Chase: Follow me on Instagram at CookerybytheBook. Twitter is IamSuzyChase. Download your Kitchen Mix Tapes, music to cook by, on Spotify at Cookery by the Book. As always, subscribe in Apple Podcasts.