A new dish has come into my life recently. I mean, it’s an old dish, maybe very old, and maybe you’ve been eating it for breakfast or dinner all your life, but I’ve only gotten to know it in recent years. And I’m a little obsessed. It’s called shakshuka.
It’s a Tunisian dish, or an Israeli or a Libyan dish, depending on who you ask. All I know is that I’ve been loving a version from my local bagel shop (which also inspired that caramelized onion hummus recipe). Shakshuka is a mildly spicy stew of tomatoes and peppers, adorned with a poached egg. In this recipe, adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty, the eggs are poached right in the tomatoes and peppers, making for a one-pot meal of the most delicious sort.Continue reading →
I would like to write a love song entitled “Five-Minute Sauces That Make it a Meal.” “It” being whatever else you have to put on the table. Whether it’s a salsa or a savory mayonnaise, a compound butter or a pesto, the key components of a great sauce are flavor, flavor, and flavor. And the results are worth singing about.
This Italian parsley sauce delivers. The basic recipe combines parsley, capers, lemon, a shallot, and garlic. Maybe (hopefully) an anchovy. You can vary it a million ways: give it body with day-old bread, add other soft herbs, swap red onion for the shallot and garlic, spice it up with chile peppers, add nuts or vinegar or fancy pickles. Reduce the oil or leave it out altogether (in which case you’ll have more of a sprinkle than a sauce). Whatever ingredients you choose, chop them up and smooth it all together in a slick of olive oil. Serve over anything.We often make this sauce when we grill fish or vegetables, but I hear that it also complements meat nicely. Drizzle it over steamed potatoes. Dunk a crusty chunk of bread in it. Whatever you do with it in the end, it will be worth the five minutes it takes to make. Continue reading →
Or maybe I should have titled this post, “How to Caramelize Onions and Why You Don’t Usually Have To.” Because nine times out of ten, when you want your onions soft and sweet, you can just cook ’em like crazy over high heat and end up with a sweet, jammy mess that will do the trick nicely. There, I just saved you hours of standing over a hot stove. Now you have time to read a good book. You’re welcome.
But, ok, sometimes you want the real thing. You want a more refined result, a whisper-soft bowl of yielding allium nectar. Caramelizing onions is transformative, like grilling broccoli or roasting cauliflower or shaving raw brussels sprouts for a salad. And once you make your first batch and see how little hands-on time it takes, there will be nothing to stop you from making the occasional batch to add to eggs and soups and fancy little toasts and all manner of things.
Make a big batch while you’re at it, of course, and freeze leftover caramelized onions for an easy flavor boost another day.Continue reading →
You know how recipes are just made up? I mean, some people have a lot of good ideas about food, and some people have extensive experience with food, and those people are probably going to make up good recipes. But still, they’re just playing around, asking themselves what tastes good.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to recipes, really, and on some topics there is not even the remote possibility of agreement between any two authorities. Once such topic, I submit, is The Perfect Tomato Sandwich.I’ve tried many. Tomatoes alone. Tomatoes with pesto, fresh mozzarella, and vinegar. I understand that some people like tomatoes with lettuce and bacon. I’ve even tried this sandwich, the tomatoes opulently nestled into a double setting of mayonnaise and butter. Perfection is a slippery thing, ephemeral and ever-changing. Especially when it comes to tomato sandwiches.
My personal current Perfect Tomato Sandwich–which I achieved tonight, just one of many wildly varying Perfect Tomato Sandwiches I’ve had in my life–is pictured above and detailed below. It is emphatically open-faced, with thin slices of avocado and thick slices of tomato on grainy toasted bread. Its crowning glory (or maybe it’s a hidden glory?) is a smear of anchovy-laced mayonnaise.
I found this picture on the camera the other day:I asked J, “Why did you take this picture?”
J asked me, “Why did you put a glass of basil in the cupboard?”
Well, for about a million reasons, of course! First, you all convinced me that I should keep my basil on the counter in a vase of water–and hey! That really works! Second, the counter was messy and I needed a little more space. Third…well, ok, two reasons.
When there’s more basil than I have room for, it’s pesto time. At this time of year, if you have a glut of basil yourself, consider making a big batch of pesto and freezing it in ice cube trays. (Not because you’d limit yourself to one cube of pesto, of course–just because it defrosts more quickly than if you freeze it in a bigger block.) And if you’re making pesto to freeze, it might as well double as dinner, right?This is, to me, the perfect pesto. It’s saucy and flavorful with no one component overwhelming the others. It tastes like summer, which we’ll appreciate with nostalgia soon. But for the moment, why not enjoy it with whole wheat pasta and summer’s perfect Sungold tomatoes? Continue reading →
Oh, school. Its arrival is so bittersweet. Even though I liked school as a kid, I was never quite ready for summer to end–who is? And now that it’s my own kids heading happily back to class, a part of me is sorry to see them go. (Another part of me is looking forward to a few mornings a week alone with my baby, of course, and to the single hour of silence in my day at her naptime.)
So yesterday we celebrated the Last Day of Summer Vacation with swimming, ice cream cones dripping onto the sidewalk, and an afternoon in the park. Today dawned all business instead: breakfast, brushed hair, a stocked backpack, and then a bike ride to school to deliver our oldest to the rigors of first grade. (It looked pretty fun, actually.)
And by the end of the day we were all exhausted. Quesadillas, rice, beans from a can. And this salsa. This salsa! It brightened everything right up. Bring home a pound of tomatillos and a lime next time you’re out, and in five minutes you’ll be cheered right up. Have the energy to go beyond quesadillas? I love tomatillo salsa on black bean tacos, taco salads, huevos rancheros, and chilaquiles. Especially chilaquiles. Maybe it’s a good thing that the seasons are changing after all. Continue reading →
Roundabout late afternoon, while I’m (doing a million other things and) waiting for inspiration to strike in the kitchen, it’s usually safe to start with a sauce. A pesto, a garlicky yogurt sauce, a lemony harissa number? It’s easy to take it from there: a pesto might lead to pasta, a yogurt sauce will inspire something to dunk in it, and that lemony harissa is a treat with eggs.Today, unable to stare down the mountain of gorgeous produce in my fridge, I retreated instead to a pantry shelf for a jar of dried guajillo chiles from our Tonnemaker’s CSA. A spicy paste of red chiles is the answer to a number of questions at our house, such as: “What should I pour over rice and black beans and vegetables?” and “What would be good on this taco salad?” and “How should I sauce my enchiladas?” And if there’s any of this sauce left over after dinner, the question immediately becomes, “How soon is morning so I can make huevos rancheros?” Continue reading →
Yes, of course you can make this spunky 15-minute healthy meal with tofu instead of fish. Or halibut fillets instead of salmon steaks, which is what I usually do. Or any white fish, really. But lest you think that lean-protein-of-choice steamed with bok choy sounds too dull and virtuous, let me assure you that this dish is all about the zippy sauce. In fact, be sure to make some rice to sop it all up. (Brown rice is in keeping with the virtuous theme and usually my preference, but it makes this a 45-minute meal instead. You do what you like.)
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One of the saddest things that can happen inside my refrigerator is the demise of a gorgeous bunch of herbs. It happens like this: I buy herbs, I have a grand plan to use them, I put it off for a few days, the herbs get bullied toward the back of the fridge, and by the time I find the basil or cilantro the leaves are black and mushy and I shed a tear. Sound familiar? It doesn’t have to be that way.Continue reading →
It’s easy to get into a salad rut when summer is doing its thing in the garden and salad-making is so easy. Greens, veggies, vinaigrette, boom, salad. But a salad can be so much more, and just a few moments of effort invested in a good dressing can go a long way toward spicing things up.
I am not the maker-of-vinaigrette in our family (thank you, J!), so on the rare occasions when the salad dressing is my job I tend to branch out, if only a little, from the standard oil-vinegar-mustard combination. Continue reading →