The Long and Winding Road to Richmond’s Most Ambitious New Restaurant—in One Dish

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Out of all the dishes a chef envisions, tests, and eventually serves, how does one become a restaurant’s signature? For Longoven’s Andrew Manning, Megan Fitzroy Phelan, and Patrick Phelan, the defining menu item is the thing they’ve never been able to stop fiddling with: a savory egg custard that they’ve topped with everything from uni to summer flowers. As the team journeyed from DIY pop-up stalwarts to the owners
of a new brick-and-mortar location, a version of this dish has always anchored their constantly changing restaurant.

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Photo by Fred + Elliott

November 2016: Jasmine Rice Custard

Two years into the Longoven bi-weekly pop-up, Manning wants to put a savory custard on the menu (he’s a chawanmushi fanatic). This month he finally does, mixing jasmine-rice-steeped milk with egg yolks, steaming it, then topping with crunchy cauliflower mushrooms, yuzu jelly, and Maine uni (Phelan’s a fanatic). After the chefs wrap their day jobs (butchering, catering, and teaching pastry), the three refine the dish through late-night phone calls. In the end, the uni custard scores with diners. That’s validation for the team, who are balancing their ambitious roving restaurant with regular work.

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Photo by Fred + Elliott

August 2017: Corn Custard

It’s summer, and Manning sees blue crabs and corn everywhere, so he makes a corn custard covered with fat hunks of Chesapeake blue crab, a double dose of shiitake (jelly and mushrooms), seaweed-cured egg, and shiso. More late-night calls ensue as they finalize this month’s pop-up menu. It’s been a hectic ride: They’re
six months into the renovation of Longoven’s future home.

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Photo by Fred + Elliott

June 2018: Asparagus Custard

More blue crab! Manning plays off the classic pairing of crab and asparagus with this summer-flower-crowned custard. This iteration earns a spot on Longoven’s debut menu in the new space, a familiar note among the chaos of opening. “Surreal” is the way the chefs describe the first night. Sometimes they forget they’re not a pop-up and don’t have to crank out 38 dishes at once. It’s not until they get back to their homes, late after service, that they realize they’re finally doing what they’ve been dreaming of the past four years.

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I’m Never Not Making This Sweet Potato Dish Again

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Every Wednesday night, Bon Appétit food director Carla Lalli Music takes over our newsletter with a sleeper-hit recipe from the Test Kitchen vault. It gets better: If you sign up for our newsletter, you’ll get this letter before everyone else.

I have sweet potato regret

There’s a saying in my family that my mom definitely invented called “not-shopper’s regret.” It’s when when you see something in a store that you like and want—say, the perfect shoe in your size—but then, for whatever reason, don’t buy. And then you regret it, and it becomes a torture and a torment. The lesson is that it is better to have shopped and returned than never to have shopped at all. Remember that.

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Right now I am in the throes of “not-cooker’s regret” and it’s because we didn’t make these twice-cooked sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving. I know! I should just be grateful the bloating has gone down and happy that my socks aren’t leaving deep elastic crease marks in my calves anymore. But no—I’m in deep sweet potato turmoil, and it’s all my fault.

Last year, my dear colleague Andy Baraghani was working on the recipe for these alt-sweet potatoes right around the time that my Thanksgiving planning was underway. Because I loved them and because I wanted to do something different, I put them on our menu.

There are a million reasons why this dish could have scandalized several family members and had me banished from hosting for life. First of all, we already have a sweet potato dish we all love, a chipotle-spiked puree that my aunt makes, and no one in my family likes change. Secondly, the sweet spuds Andy was working on were baked, charred, and glazed with brown butter and honey before being served on top of an insanely garlicky puree called toum, which can cause fire-breathing in otherwise healthy adults. The whole situation is topped with nigella seeds, which look at first glance like black sesame seeds but taste a little bit like onion-pepper sprinkles. Let’s just say it’s wasn’t a very predictable addition to our Thanksgiving menu, which is harder to exert influence over than a hysterical toddler during a tantrum. But: my house, my rules. They made their debut.

cookbook sweet potato lede

Photo by Kristin Teig

Look at all the colors of sweet potatoes available to you.

The surprise was that everyone loved them. Like, love loved. My father, the stubbornest of us all, couldn’t stop with these sweet potatoes. He said things like, “Oh we always have to have those,” and “Everything was great, but that sweet potato dish!” I told Andy all about it.

And then, what happens: A year goes by and everything that was good became meaningless and forgettable?? I guess so, because I didn’t care enough to lobby for last year’s breakout star, and now I can’t stop thinking about the way the honey sticks to the charred surfaces, so that they’re kind of chewy and creamy at the same time. I miss the way you can drag a forkful of fluffy potatoes through the toum to get a perfect sweet-hot-spicy bite. I have special regrets about the way the narrow end of the sweet potato gets extra roasty and brown and candy-ish in the oven. And basically I’m just mad about everything. This is what it’s like to have not-cooker’s regret.

And that is why, now that the holidays are over and I am in charge of my everyday eating menu, I’m going to do what’s right. I’m going to cook these sweet potatoes tonight, and again this weekend, and another night next week, and for when people come over, and whenever the sweet potatoes are looking good at the market, and also for meal prep on Sunday, and any other time I please. I made a mistake this one time. All I can do is try to make it up to myself.

Get the recipe:

Twice-Cooked Sweet Potatoes with Toum

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The Simplehuman Dish Rack Makes Your Life Look Less Messy Than It Really Is

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It’s Get Organized week! Over the next few days, we’ll be highlighting the products and methods we use in, out, and around the kitchen to get our lives together.

The first question people ask me when they walk into my kitchen is, “Where did you get that dish rack?” It is definitely the biggest thing in my kitchen, but no matter how many dishes are piled inside of it, my simplehuman dish rack looks neatly organized like it’s part of a stock photoshoot. Plates and bowls are shingled in their designated spaces along the back, frying pans line up in the middle, glasses and mugs hang securely off the side, and sharp knives stay handle-side up in wooden slots. And even with all of that, there’s still room for items like a mandoline, clean leftover storage containers, and a cutting board without hitting capacity.

For most of my adult life, I had the standard, cheap plastic dish drying rack that I had to replace at least once a year because it got mildewy, moldy, or cracked in half. Then a few years ago, I decided to splurge on the simplehuman dish rack I eyed at Bed Bath & Beyond at least six times before committing. It was stainless steel and shining in the aisle, and since I hand wash all of my dishes (dishwashers are unicorns in budget-friendly New York City apartments) I needed space to dry them all. I bought the $80 dish rack with a 20 percent off coupon, registered it for its five-year warranty, and have zero regrets.

But even if you have a dishwasher, I highly recommend getting this larger rack (19.8″W x 17.7″L x 13.3″H), because you’ll inevitably have to hand-wash things like your Dutch oven, fragile ceramics, and wine glasses. It’s literally thought of everything: The drip tray is expandable and can slide to the left or the right of the rack. There’s a swivel spout that looks like a water slide so you can aim residual water right into the sink (you can put the rack on either side of the sink this way). The wine glass rack can hang even XXL wine glasses upside down by the base of the stem. Oh, and there’s an anti-residue coating on the plastic tray so water spreads and dries more quickly, making sure there’s no gnarly build-up or weird smells coming from your rack. To be honest, I haven’t cleaned it in the nearly two years that I’ve owned it… and it looks almost as good as new. I wipe the outside down when I clean, but it has a fingerprint-proof, rust-proof finish so I don’t have to do much.

As anyone whose come to my house and casually mentioned the piece now well knows, this is the Cadillac of dish racks. But if you think it’s too big for your kitchen, simplehuman also makes a compact version (11.9″W x 15″L x 8.9″H) that is slightly smaller and $30 cheaper, but I say go big or go home. It’s an investment in the illusion that you have your life together, and impressing people is priceless.

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Misi NYC Is All About Pasta, But I’m In Love With This Vegetable Dish | Healthyish

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There are very few restaurant openings that excite me enough to set a calendar alert for when reservations go live. Misi, the new restaurant from pasta whisperer/James Beard Award winner Missy Robbins (she co-owns Lilia, the sleek Italian place where even Jennifer Lawrence had to wait to get a table) was one of those openings.

At Lilia, Robbins is known for putting ambitious twists on pastas you thought you knew that somehow make them even better (pink peppercorns in cacio e pepe; saffron and honey in ricotta-filled agnolotti). At Misi, the pastas are similarly fantastic —but, for me at least, the most exciting dish on the menu is not a pasta at all. It’s a plate of roasted tomatoes.

What’s so great about a roasted tomato? This very website contains dozens of recipes that involve roasting tomatoes! But this particular dish—saturated with aromatic fennel and coriander seeds, laced with chili-spiked honey, and topped with fresh basil leaves—made me immediately forget about all the other versions out there.

We all know that roasting tomatoes is an excellent technique for bringing out the natural umami of the fruit. But adding the sweet-spicy element of the honey, the freshness of the herbs, and the complexity and texture of the spices somehow enhanced that umami while allowing each component to stand out on its own, flavor-wise. Also, the dish looks really pretty.

Misi’s roasted tomatoes are a riff on the slow-roasted tomatoes with coriander and fennel seeds in Robbins’ cookbook, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner…Life! My first thought looking at this recipe was: I will cook this tomorrow. One, because it felt very accessible; and two, my farmers’ market was still selling tomatoes, and this seemed like an ideal way to wring the last flavor out of the late summer supply. Long story short: I nailed the dish.

All you’re doing is slicing 12 or so heirloom tomatoes in half, arranging them cut side up on a baking sheet, seasoning them with salt, olive oil, cracked coriander, and fennel seeds and roasting them for two hours in a 275° oven. When they’re done, they should have shriveled along the edges, but they should still be juicy and retain some of their bright color. I arranged the tomatoes in my nicest-looking plate (because, you know, this is a presentation-forward dish), and drizzled them with about a tablespoon of hot honey (if you don’t have hot honey, it’s very easy to make yourself), then I scattered basil leaves on top.

And that’s it! I planned to eat my tomatoes over toast, but they were so good that I forgot about anything else and polished them off in about five minutes. That said, these tomatoes would make for a great sandwich filler, pasta base, or dip (just throw them in the blender).

But, for now, I’ll be making and eating these on repeat…long after tomato season is done.

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The Slow-Roasted Fish That Packs a Lot In One Baking Dish

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If there was a “Slow-Roasted Fish Fan Club” I’d be the president. I make this Healthyish slow-cooked white fish with charred cabbage at least once a week. And Alison Roman’s slow-roasted salmon is as easy as it is impressive. And now I have a new recipe to add my slow-roasted arsenal: Claire Saffitz’s Roast Fish with Cannellini Beans and Green Olives.

This throw-together dinner uses pantry staples like canned beans and lemons. But don’t let the humble ingredient list fool you—what you end up with is creamy cannellinis studded with olives and chile all hanging out in an herby olive oil, topped with lemon-y tender fish.

Luckily the steps for the recipe are as low-key as the ingredient list. You start things off by combining fresh oregano, canned beans (the recipe calls for cannellini but chickpeas or butter beans would work well too!), torn Castelvetrano olives, and water in a 3-qt. baking dish. You then place the fish (I used cod but the recipe works with any whitefish fillet) on top of the beans, or as Saffitz puts it “nestle into beans”, and scatter thinly sliced shallots and Fresno chiles over everything. Now here comes the part where the recipe goes from average weeknight dinner to weeknight dinner worth painting-by-number: You are going to arrange slices of thinly sliced lemon over the surface of the fish so that they are slightly overlapping. You did hear that shingling was one of the biggest trends this year, right? Once you’ve done that, drizzle everything with lots of olive oil and pop it into a 300 degree oven.

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Photo by Alex Lau

See? Don’t you want to paint it by numbers?

It’s important to note that even though the word “slow” is in the whole technique for this fish, the process is anything but. The fish is only in the oven for around 30 minutes, and while you theoretically could cook the fish in less time on a higher heat, that low and slow method is what provides the best insurance against overcooking. Which is a very important kind of insurance. If you want to be extra certain the fish is done, you could go with this technique that Saffitz talked about to Healthyish a few months back: “Use a metal cake tester by sliding it into the fish and pressing it to your lower lip for three seconds. If the metal is warm, the fish is done. If it’s hot, the fish is probably overcooked, and if the metal is still cool, put it back in the oven.” Smart.

Once the fish is done, take it out and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Yes, fish needs to rest too. It’s a chance to let the flavors mingle together a little longer while letting the fish cool slightly. While that’s happening make sure the beans stay submerged-ish in the liquid (you don’t want them to dry out!). Then serve everything with a few lemon wedges to squeeze over. And if you’re future me, some crusty bread to sop up all the brothy beans, too.

Get the recipe:

roast-fish-with-cannellini-beans-and-green-olives.jpg

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