Jul 19, 2017
Haven's Kitchen Summer School: Soups

In our lesson this week at Haven's Kitchen Summer School, Sonjia Hyon explores how to layer flavors in chilled soups.  


I love cold soups. My husband often snubs his nose and calls it a “savory smoothie.” But what's wrong with that? In general, he thinks cold things should be sweet, with the exception of pickles. I couldn't get him to eat a salad the first 5 years of our relationship.

I grew up in a Korean family that enjoyed eating cold, savory soupy noodles in the summertime. (Koreans also eat a hot chicken stew, but more on that another time.) We looked forward to the humidity because it meant that it was naengmyeon season.




I can understand why people are confused by cold soups. Soups evoke fall and winter, and are designed to be warming and nourishing. They are the down comforter of food. Chilled soups, on the other hand, are cooling and cleansing, which doesn't exactly evoke comfort. But who wants comfort in the summer? We want to be light and free, find that twitch of excitement in our souls. We might want to be comfortable from the heat, but comfort is not the emotional state of summer.

At Haven's Kitchen, the day after Memorial Day commences cold brew and chilled soup season in our cafe. In our classes, we teach our students how to make cold soups because they are a simple means to make a meal without turning on the oven.

In The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School, we want readers to learn the importance of layering flavor through making soup. At first glance, this concept doesn't seem to apply to cold soups. How does one layer flavor when you're not using heat?

For hot soups, you start by sweating the aromatics. These aromatics are regional. The classic French mirepoix is usually onions, carrots and celery. In Southeast Asia, it might be lemongrass, ginger and shallots. When layering flavors with cold soups, the intention is the same, but the method is different. As we've discussed last week, we have a short time to appreciate and admire the flavor and texture of a tomato or a cantaloupe. In this sense, layering is also about complementing. For summer soups, the method we use to create complexity is with acids like vinegar or citrus, fresh herbs and chilies, to embolden the soup's base ingredient whether it be cucumber, tomato, or melon.


ajoblanco_mise_700Ingredients for Ajo Blanco: grilled bread, garlic confit, sherry vinegar, Marcona almonds, and Persian cucumbers.


For tomato gazpacho, we also add corn and cucumber to add crunch, sweetness and neutrality to balance the acid of the tomato and to add texture. Depending on your style, you can modulate the texture of a tomato gazpacho. I prefer it a little more chunky whereas some people prefer it to be velvety smooth. To get this, I prefer to use a hand blender. However, the key for a smoother texture is a high-powered blender like a Vitamix and a good shot of olive oil when you're blending. It will emulsify the soup creating a no-cream creamy feel. This is useful especially for the Ajo Blanco.




Finally, add garnishes. They offer texture and another layer of flavor, but also provide a pretty signal to your guests and to yourself for what's in the soup. For the Ajo Blanco, we put sliced fresh grapes at the bottom, and put roasted grapes on top. Or, you can opt for a cucumber brunoise and some sliced almonds.




Making cold soups is your opportunity to be playful and something you shouldn’t have to fuss over, even if it’s on the menu for that summer dinner party you’ve been dreaming up. Starting your guests off with a piquant gazpacho on a warm summer night will be their cue to relax, be light, and take in the “comforts” that summer has to offer.


Ajo Blanco, reprinted in Camille Styles








Fresh Lime Juice

Serrano Chilies,

Sandita Pickles,
Lime Zest,
Olive Oil

Red Peppers

Red Wine Vinegar


Fresh Basil


Sherry Vinegar

Garlic Confit,
Grilled Bread

Roasted &
Fresh Grapes,



Follow along as we cook our way this summer through our cookbook, The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School. Find our stories on our blog, Instagram, Facebook or through our hashtags: #havenskitchencookbook, #hknycookbook and #cookwithconfidence.

Jul 13, 2017
Haven's Kitchen Summer School: Vegetables

This week in Haven’s Kitchen Summer School, Sonjia Hyon follows our culinary manager, Zoe Maya Jones, on a trip to the Union Square Greenmarket to learn about how seasonality is important in building confidence in the kitchen. 


Summer is an inspirational and aspirational time to be in the kitchen. At the greenmarket, we're wooed by pert greens and jewel-toned tomatoes. Each week's visit offers a new vegetable or fruit to discover—no wonder the season seems to move so fast—everything including your crushes only last for a week or two before you find something even more beautiful and desirable.


market_haul_2_700Our haul from the Union Square Greenmarket.  


This week we expand upon our chapter on vegetables from The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School. Vegetables are an exploration in seasonality, meaning we should patiently wait to eat tomatoes in late summer instead of the dead of winter. Or, that blueberries and strawberries are at their best after May. You might be eating tomatoes in the dead of winter, but more often than not, they are mealy and wan. There are other important reasons to eat seasonally, like it's environmental impact, but for now, we're talking about how it makes our food taste better. Thus, appreciating our food more.


market_tomatoes_700So cute, you just want to eat them.

This is why we encourage our students to seize summer! It's so pleasurable to walk through the greenmarket and feel the juicy heft of a peach or admire the wonder of a kohlrabi. From a cooking perspective, summer produce does a lot of the work in terms of flavor and aesthetic. You don't need to spend a lot of time hovering over a recipe and a stove. In fact, this is the best time to flex your creativity in the kitchen and unshackle yourself from a recipe. Go rogue!


Before you find yourself overwhelmed by the possibilities at the greenmarket, here are some tips to organize yourself from our culinary manager Zoe Maya Jones:


Before going to the market:
  •  Check out what you have in you fridge and pantry and dream up a few possibilities.
  •  Bring reuseable bags along with plastic bags you might already have at home.
  •  It's always good to bring cash. Some vendors take credit cards, but I'm sure they appreciate cash payments because it means more money goes directly to farmers rather than credit card processors and banks.


At the market:
  •  Do an initial walkthrough of the market to see what's there.
  •  Compare prices.
  •  Write notes on a piece of paper or on your phone of things you found exciting.


Lastly, Zoe Maya says she always shops with two rules in mind: find an ingredient that you really love and one ingredient that you haven't cooked before or that is going challenge you. Zoe Maya loves dollhouse-sized vegetables and fruit. This week on her greenmarket trip, to her delight she found itsy-bitsy tomatoes as the ingredient she loves, and sanditas, which look like miniature watermelons and taste like cucumbers, for the latter.


Remembering that we had leftover fresh cavatelli in our kitchen walk-in, she decided that she would use the tomatoes for a pasta dish. Walking through the market, she was enthralled by how the baby zucchini still had their blossoms attached and the hue of purple scallions. The zucchinis and scallions would be sautéed in butter for the pasta and the blossoms would garnish it for dramatic presentation.


An avid pickler, Zoe Maya had never used sanditas for a pickle, and wanted this to be her challenge. Summer is the time for preserving all those summer vegetables to be enjoyed year round. Pickling is also another avenue to find creativity. Use different vinegars along with spices and herbs to season your pickles, like rice wine vinegar and Thai chili, or Champagne vinegar and fennel seeds.


As your final takeaway for this week's session, more so than anything, seasonality is a prompt for flexibility and intuition. 


Zoe Maya's Favorite Vendors at the Union Square Greenmarket
Madura Farms // They have the best mushrooms and really good corn.

Mountain Sweet Berry // They have best tomatoes, strawberries, and potatoes.

Keith's // Famous for garlic, got garlic scapes, beautiful greens and herbs

Lani's // All types of amazing salad greens and always cooking delicious samples and how to make things at the market.  One of the best things they sell is fresh edamame on the stalk.


Greenmarket "Recipe" Grid




Pasta, Parmigiano Reggiano,
Fresh Thyme, Butter

Corn, Baby Tomatoes,
Summer Squash, Purple Scallions

Cavatelli with Summer Vegetables

Vinegar, Whole

Sanditas, Kohlrabi,
Garlic Scapes

Pickles, three ways

Oats, Flour, Sugar,

Cherries, Peaches

Summer Fruit Crisp



3-2-1 Pickles

This "recipe" uses ratios, and is pretty easy to remember. The pickles are good for up to one month in the refrigerator. If you're interested in canning, read this primer on Food52. With pickles, the sugar balances the acidity of vinegar. You don't need to use the entire proportion of sugar, or you can omit it entirely, but it will affect the balance of acidity.


pickling_pots_700Pickles, left to right: Rice Vinegar, Thai Chilis, Coriander Seeds, Fresh Ginger, Kohlrabi; Champagne Vinegar, Fennel Seed, Black Peppercorn, Garlic Scapes; White Vinegar, Bay Leaf Allspice, Sanditas


3 parts vinegar

2 parts water

1 part sugar, we usually use organic cane sugar, but you can omit the sweetener.

Spices and herbs, to your taste and creativity

Wash and prepare your vegetables. Cut to your desired shape and size or leave whole.

Combine vinegar, water, sugar, and spices in an appropriate sized saucepan. You want to make enough liquid to be able to fully submerge your vegetables. Bring to a simmer, and stir to dissolve sugar. Turn off the heat.

Bring the liquid to cool if you're concerned about preserving the color of the vegetables like the bright green of a jalapeno, but eventually the acid will change the color anyway. Make sure the vegetables are in a heat-safe container, and pour the pickling liquid over them so that they are fully submerged.

If you haven't already cooled your pickling liquid, make sure that your pickles have cooled before refrigerating.




Pasta with Summer Vegetables

This is a roadmap rather than a recipe.

1. Cook a pot of pasta. When it's cooked to al dente, reserve a cup of water and drain it. Don't rinse with cold water, instead toss with olive oil in the colander so it doesn't stick together.

2. Heat a large pan over medium-high, pour enough olive oil to cover the bottom. When it feels pretty hot, add the tomatoes and thyme. Cook until the tomatoes are blistered.

3. Add the thinly sliced summer squash, cook until it's softened, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in the corn kernels with a couple tablespoons of butter. Stir until the butter has melted.

4. Add a couple dashes of pasta cooking water so it makes a nice sauce, let it evaporate and thicken into a glistening sauce.

5. Stir in sliced scallion bulbs with the cooked pasta to preserve the purple color.

6. Garnish with basil, squash blossom, and lots of Parmigiano-Reggiano.


Follow along as we cook our way this summer through our cookbook, The Haven's Kitchen Cooking SchoolFind our stories on our blog, Instagram, Facebook or through our hashtags: #havenskitchencookbook, #hknycookbook and #cookwithconfidence. 


Photos: Kathryn Tam

Jul 06, 2017
Haven's Kitchen Summer School: Fritters

In our second session of Haven's Kitchen Summer School, our Kitchen Manager Zoe Maya Jones will guide us through the idea of "mise en place." A fundamental lesson in building confidence in the kitchen, the art of "mise en place" helps unpack and organize the most complicated recipes. We find it especially useful in teaching people the technique of frying. 


The first time one hears and learns the term ”mise en place,” it is an a-ha! moment. “Everything in its place,” that’s the dream, right?


Frying doesn't have to be scary. It's just about being organized with your mise en place. 


What often sets home cooks and chefs apart is their ability to be organized and multitask. Once you master the art of mise en place, your confidence in the kitchen will grow. At Haven’s Kitchen, we teach this skill through frying fritters. Frying is one of the techniques that many students are afraid to tackle because things can get fast and hot. However, understanding mise en place — being ready with the right tools and a place to land — will alleviate these fears.


The other reason we love teaching fritters is because each food culture has its own version and every person has their personal favorite.




The fritter style we are focusing on in this session is tempura. These crispy, indulgent, light and airy fried vegetables are glorious with salt and lemon, or dipped in an easy soy vinegar sauce.


As stated, when frying organizing yourself is essential in creating the best crisp and crunch safely. Sauces are an important part of the fritter experience. So, we often recommend make the sauce first, so that when the fritters are fresh, they can be dunked and enjoyed immediately.


Before working with hot oil, set up your landing station.


The beauty of tempura is that you can use any vegetable you have, and a medley of odds and ends is even better. Besides the ones we’ve prepared in this lesson, some of our favorites are sweet potato, broccoli, Japanese eggplant, and asparagus. You can even fry pickled vegetables, like carrots and green beans, for an added punch of flavor. When deciding what to fry, practice the art of being resourceful — peek in your fridge and see what you have. Remember, our goal is less about a following a recipe, and more about finding your culinary groove.


After you've prepped your vegetables, set up your station with your tools: a spider (or slotted spoon), chopsticks or tongs, a bowl for battering, a pot of oil, a sheet pan with a rack for landing, and your thermometer. The last thing you want to do is be waiting for your oil to come to temperature when everything else is ready, so slowly heat the oil over a medium-low flame while you start to get things in order. This ensures that the oil doesn't get too hot before you finish prepping your vegetables or mixing your batter. For tempura, you'll heat your oil to a higher temperature of 400°F because you want a crispy, airy coat and high heat to steam the vegetables to quickly cook. In comparison, our standard temperature for a deep fry with French fries, falafels or arancini is at 350°F because you want the interior to cook in relation to the exterior for a good fry.




Don't you dare mix it too much. With tempura batter, lumps are your friend.


 While you're slowly bringing the oil up to temperature, make your batter. The key to tempura is not to overmix the batter. Lumps are okay! Dip vegetable pieces into the batter using tongs or chopsticks, and carefully place them in the oil.





Gently place your fritters in the oil, but don't overcrowd them in there. It'll result in sogginess.


While you're frying, don't overcrowd the pot. Leave room, so the temperature of the oil doesn't drop too much while leaving breathing room for the vegetables. Continue to monitor the oil temperature. When you add your fritters, the oil temperature will dip, which means you might need to adjust it so it's higher. 


Look at these beauties, perfectly resting in their landing station, which is next to the pot of oil. 


Once they become a beautiful golden hue, take them out put them on your landing station to cool for a 30 seconds or more so you don't burn your tongue.


We encourage you to choose a recipe you want to master, and find the most efficient way to execute it using the concept of “mise en place. “ This lesson is one you’ll take with you everywhere you go in your culinary adventures, from baking cakes to frying fish or composing a salad. It encourages you to fully read a recipe first before starting, so you know the steps you need to take to get to a successful end result. It boosts your confidence, your efficiency, and your success rate. Bonus: you’ll look like a professional when entertaining family and friends.


Mixed Vegetable Tempura

Vegetable oil, for frying
1½ cup rice flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup cold beer
¾ cup cold sparkling water
About 24 pieces of three or four different kinds of vegetables such as: broccoli, cut into large florets, onions, sliced into ½-inch rings, sweet potato, cut on the bias into ¼-inch-thick slices, green beans, ends trimmed, asparagus, woody bottoms trimmed

1. In a large bowl, stir rice flour and baking powder. While whisking, gradually pour in the beer and sparkling water, mixing just until combined. Be careful not to overmix; there should be lumps in the batter.

2. Set up your landing station: Place a baking sheet lined with a wire rack next to your frying area with a slotted spoon or spider.

3. Fill a large, heavy-bottomed pot with enough oil to cover the tempura by at least 1 inch once added. Heat the oil to 400°F over medium heat. Unlike other frying temperatures, the oil temperature should not drop too much, so you'll keep it steady at 400°F the entire time.

4. When the oil has reached 400°F, use chopsticks or long tongs to dip the vegetables into the batter and allow the excess to drip off before carefully placing in the hot oil.

5. Fry the vegetables until lightly golden and crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Using the slotted spoon or spider, scoop them out and transfer to the prepared rack, sprinkle with salt. Continue frying the remaining vegetables in uncrowded batches, making sure to allow the oil to return to 400°F before starting the next batch.

6. Serve hot with a ginger garlic sauce, or salt and lemon.

Recipe excerpted from The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School by Alison Cayne (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2017. 
Photos by Kathryn Tam

Follow along as we cook our way this summer through our cookbook, The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School. Find our stories on our blog, Instagram, Facebook or through our hashtags: #havenskitchencookbook, #hknycookbook and #cookwithconfidence. 

Jun 28, 2017
Haven's Kitchen Summer School: Grains & Beans

Hello to our first session in the Haven's Kitchen Summer School series. For nine weeks, we'll be expanding on the lessons from each of the chapters of The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School cookbook. Follow along with us each week through our blog, Instagram, Facebook or through our hashtags: #havenskitchencookbook, #hknycookbook and #cookwithconfidence. This first installment is from special projects director, Sonjia Hyon, who worked on The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School with Alison Cayne.


When Ali first started conceptualizing The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School, she wanted to write a cookbook that would encourage people to find confidence in the kitchen. From the start, Ali talked about writing an entire chapter on how to cook grains and beans.

Mastering the art of cooking grains or beans, Ali argues, teaches you the purpose of cooking. For her, it is the key to unlocking the chef in any so-called terrible cook because it teaches a person how to imagine the intention of their process. How do we want to use these beans or grains? What kind of texture do they need to be? And how do we need to use heat, temperature and time to achieve that texture?




When you cook a pot of garbanzo beans for a salad like our Garbanzo Feta recipe, you want the  texture to have some give, yet tenderness. This means maintaining a careful watch of the simmering beans, remembering to lower the heat when they bubble too aggressively, and stirring and tasting every so often so they don't become mush. On the other hand, the cook time for a hummus can be more forgiving as mush because they'll be pureed into a dip, which you want to be creamy.


Use this framework when following a recipe as well. In general, recipes are designed to be roadmaps. Each ingredient is used to serve a purpose and intention — texture, flavor, balance, and aesthetic. So when adapting recipes to sub out ingredients you like, which you should do ALL the time, consider the architecture of the recipe.




In our Garbanzo Feta Salad, for example, we use the garbanzo beans as the base for a salad that is complemented by the crunch of fresh cucumbers and onion, and a briny, creamy punch of feta cut by an herbaceous parsley. The red onion gives it color and sharpness. 




In the recipe, Ali suggests the garbanzos to be cooked, the red onions to be sliced and the cucumbers to be cut on the bias. But, consider what would happen if we roasted half the chickpeas, diced the onions and cucumbers, marinated the feta, and added tiny rainbow peppers. It reinvents the salad and gives it a different kind of crunch, flavor, and color while relying on the same recipe.





Think about how you can reinvent your own favorite recipes without too much work. Try a different knife cut, substitute an ingredient, try a new spice – this is the beginning of finding an "automatism" in your cooking.



Garbanzo Feta Salad, Apt 34.


Roasted Chickpeas
makes 2 cups 

3 cups cooked chickpeas

¼ cup olive oil

3 tablespoons smoked paprika, curry powder, or spice of your choice (optional)

salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°F

Toss the chickpeas with the olive oil and spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in the oven, stirring every 15 minutes or so. After the first 30 minutes of baking, start to test for doneness. If you want them really crisp, bake for another 15 minutes, if you like them on the chewier side, only bake for another five minutes.

Add and stir on the seasonings and salt for the last 5 to 10 minutes of baking. Cool on the tray before transferring to an airtight container.


Marinated Feta
If you don't want to make chimichurri, you can also use olive oil with lemon juice or another type of acide and any other herbs you like. You need more oil than acid so it doesn't break down the feta. 

2 cups feta, diced

1 cup chimichurri sauce, recipe from the cookbook or this one is pretty good as well.

olive oil, if needed, to cover

To successfully marinate feta, it should be done overnight.

Carefully toss the in the chimichurri so it’s fully coated with herbs. If needed, pour olive oil over top until the feta is fully submerged. This will help to extend the shelf life and permeate the feta with the flavors of the herbs and oil.

Join us next week when we talk about fritters! Please send us questions, comments and feedback about the cookbook. We want to hear it all.