Red Pepper and Walnut Dip (Muhammara)

Of all the tasty little meze dishes that have passed through my kitchen in recent weeks—and oh, there have been many—this muhammara is certainly our favorite.  It’s a thick, rich, flavorful paste of roasted red peppers and walnuts, spicy with harissa and just a touch exotic with the sweet-tart, unplaceable flavor of pomegranate molasses.  Watch around the table: the first bite prompts a moment’s confusion, a second take, another bite, a smile.  “What IS this?”  It’s muhammara.

Muhammara Continue reading

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Whole Wheat Pasta with Greens, Caramelized Onions, and Creamy Walnut Sauce

There’s a new category of food in our house these days that I like to call “decadent vegan.”  Regular vegan food, as everyone knows, is steamed quinoa with shredded carrots and a squeeze of lemon, but decadent vegan food is different.  It’s this creamy, hearty pasta, and my first experiment with deep-frying and that addictive roasted squash salad that we’re still making every chance we get.  In truth, a lot of recipes on this site fall into the decadent vegan category, but for some reason I hadn’t thought of them that way before.  This year, I’m making a conscious effort to cook more vegan meals.  Decadent, delicious vegan meals.

What are your favorite recipes or ideas that fall into the decadent vegan category?  Please share!

Pasta with Greens, Caramelized Onions, and Creamy Walnut SauceIf you keep a jar of caramelized onions in the fridge, as I’ve been doing lately, this recipe can be prepared in the time your pasta takes to cook.  And if you don’t keep a jar of caramelized onions in the fridge, I encourage you to start. Continue reading

Spiced Lentils and Rice with Fried Onions (Mejadra)

I recognize that early January is a time of year traditionally reserved for repentance and asceticism, but I’ve never been much good at either of those.  After many years of making my never-changing Annual New Year’s Resolution (yeah, I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours), this year I didn’t make one at all.

So while better women are perfecting their green smoothie technique or annoying the regulars at the gym, I’ve been getting over my fear of deep frying.Lentils and Rice with Fried OnionsAnd I’m so glad I did.  This dish is spectacular for a few reasons.  The flavors are deep and rich and sweet, beautifully spiced but not at all spicy.  You probably already have all the ingredients in your cupboard, but I bet it won’t cost you $2 if you have to restock anything for this recipe.  And the leftovers just get better and better as the days go by. Continue reading

How to Boil an Egg

Well, hello!  Let’s pick up where we left off, shall we?  As I recall, we were enjoying lots of good food and the people we love and life in general, and then I went on a very long vacation.  I hope you did too, or that you stayed home and snuggled your family and drank hot chocolate, and that either way you’ve had a restful and happy end of one year and beginning of the next.

So happy new year! I wish you a year of good health and simple pleasures.How to Boil an EggAnd what, after all, is as healthy and simple as an egg?  I think of the egg as a secret weapon in my kitchen: it cooks in seconds, it’s cheap and filling, it makes leftovers into a meal.  And I owe another debt of gratitude to the egg: it’s the thing that got me started writing this blog a year ago today, in an effort to branch out from my cooking regimen of scrambled eggs and scrambled eggs.  I’ve managed to diversify a bit this year, it’s true, but there’s still always room for a good egg in my kitchen.

Boiling an egg is an economical preparation: the shell holds it tidily, no added fat is required, and you needn’t even exert your wrist with whisking.  You only need water, a pot, a few minutes of patience and, preferably, a pinch of salt at the end.  You can leave the yolks soft to smear over toast or cook them through to creamy perfection for a composed salad. Continue reading

Roasted Squash Salad with Tahini and Za’atar

Some days more than others, cooking is a dance.

“I’ll be there in a minute, honey!”  I crank the oven, scrub a butternut squash, lean in toward the counter, hack the peel away.  (Some people eat it, do you?)  Losing patience, my big girl comes over to talk subtraction, negative numbers, first grade math, the number line.  The squash falls away from my knife in isosceles wedges.  I show one to the girls.

“Do you want your squash in big pieces like this or little squares like squash candy?”  You can guess the answer.  I dice the last third of the squash, sling the pan into the oven, sweep the peels and seeds into the freezer for making broth, correct math homework, give in to the baby’s demand for a cracker.

Back to the recipe.  I scoop tahini and squeeze lemon, press garlic, whisk, text with an old friend about soup, recite the memorized words from a favorite children’s book that we can’t find today.  And then, in a moment of calm, I give my full attention to the stove, stirring, for the three minutes it takes to toast pine nuts.  Success.  They don’t burn.

Sweet roasted squash and red onions, a generous drizzle of tahini dressing, those salty toasted pine nuts, a shower of za’atar.  I taste a piece of squash, then stop doing everything else.  J wanders in at that moment and I hand him the plate and two forks.  We sit down in the middle of the chaos and eat every bite.   Roasted Sqush and Onions with Tahini and Za'atar Continue reading

Kindness

Let us outshine the random acts of violence in our world with random acts of kindness. I’m holding my girls even closer than usual this week, and trying to do my part.

PomegranateOne nice, small thing you can do for someone is to peel them a pomegranate. My parents have a pomegranate tree, and my dad has mastered this act of generosity after years of lovingly extracting the sweet seeds for my mom, and us, their children, and now my children. (When he left after a recent visit, my baby had learned to say “I wan’ mo’ pom-a-gran-ate.”) I’ve long relied on his expertise to avoid the task myself, but this week I had good luck scoring the fruit’s leathery exterior—without cutting into the juicy arils—and prying off the outer peel one section at a time. Releasing the seeds is slow, meditative, an act of love. J and I crunched the seeds by the handful, and my big girls happily ate them one at a time, sucking away the fruit and spitting out the tiny seed. What a luxury it is to be together, to eat a pomegranate together.

I’ll be posting here less often in the coming weeks, and spending more of my time delighting in my family’s company while the girls are out of school. May there be much happiness in your holiday season, and so much kindness in the world.

Kimchi Pancakes with Soy-Vinegar Dipping Sauce

And just like that, the moment is gone.

I go’ FLY, Mama, she warns me, arms outstretched.

You can fly? I ask.  She gives me a serious nod.

Ready SE-GO! I FLY! She lowers her head like a baby goat and charges across the room to me, arms wide as wings.  Even though she expects nothing less, she chortles with surprise and delight every time I catch her up in my arms and swoop her over my head.  Then she wriggles to the floor and we do it again.

One two free FLY!

Fly to me, baby.  I have caught you, and your sisters before you, a thousand times.  My arms will always be waiting (although I’m learning from your sisters that I won’t always be able to lift you overhead so effortlessly).  One two free FLY!Kimchi and Tofu PancakesSometimes change is hard, like knowing that someday soon I won’t have a flying baby anymore.  And sometimes it’s easy, like switching up the latke routine at the tail end of Hanukkah.  Continue reading