March 14, 2013 § 5 Comments
Looking back through the archives, it seems that every year around this time pickles make an appearance. Perhaps it’s to do with the lull between winter veg and new spring veg, since I certainly eat pickles year round. But right now, in March, pickled vegetables perk everything up; they’re light on effort and brighten up even the most ordinary vegetables and meals.
I hadn’t made pickled carrots in a while, and so when I’d got everything else ready it dawned on me that I was out of fresh ginger and frozen ginger. But, recalling the jar of candied ginger used in the pear-ginger sugar muffins, I decided to give it a try, subbing out some of the added sugar in my typical carrot pickling mixture for the sugar inherent in candied ginger. « Read the rest of this entry »
November 19, 2012 § 4 Comments
Can you believe it, Thanksgiving is only days away. I know, I know…I still feel like I am back in October, which is kind of ridiculous since my family has already celebrated what I like to call Midwestern Thanksgiving (not to be confused with a real holiday, Canadian Thanksgiving, which is in October).
Midwestern Thanksgiving is a gathering my maternal side of the family has every year a few weeks in advance of the real (American) turkey day, in an attempt to avoid the snow that often bombards Ohio and Michigan this time of year. This time we enjoyed huo guo, otherwise known as hot pot, wherein everyone cooks their own food in a communal pot at the center of the table. It is great fun, though the only Thanksgiving part of the meal was apple pie for dessert!
The night after Thanksgiving 1 I got together with my friends, and we had our usual knit night potluck. I brought this salad, purchased from a whole-foods store called Foods for Living, because it looked so festive, with the ruby red of the cranberries and the creamy feta popping against the warm green of the soybeans. It turns out that it tastes really great too, so much so that I had to recreate it for Thanksgiving 2 this year. « Read the rest of this entry »
April 15, 2012 § 7 Comments
When left to my own devices, I’m not that likely to cook a whole meal at once. More often than not, I will make a few dishes that roughly coordinate and then assemble them into meals as hunger and patience levels dictate. For those who similarly appreciate this casual “cut and come again” style, these beet pickles will hopefully become a part of your repertoire, as they’re so easy to make, last a while in the refrigerator, and taste like more effort was put into them than really was. These are high impact, low effort fast food, once you take into account that there is a two day waiting period while the beets and the spicy, sweet, and sour pickling liquid mingle.
Beets were never a huge part of my food lexicon growing up, but within the last few years they’ve graduated from idle appreciation to full-out obsession, which is surprising since they’re a rather humble vegetable. However, their clear, sweetly earthy taste, satisfying crunch even when pickled, and most of all their showstopping colors, brighten even the dreariest day. « Read the rest of this entry »
March 18, 2012 § 17 Comments
Hope springs eternal every March: it’s plant-buying season and I am a perennial sucker for the lush herb plants at the farmers’ markets, grocery stores, and nurseries that then mysteriously fail to thrive in my little garden. Inevitably I spend so much time nursing the plants back to life that I barely get to use any of them. This year, though, if they’re not going to survive a hot Maryland summer I might as well enjoy them now whilst I can.
So, yesterday’s lunch was the inaugural herb garden meal, a refreshing salad from my much-flagged copy of Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sam Tamimi. Chef/owners of the popular London chain, you may have heard of them via Yotam Ottolenghi’s second cookbook, Plenty — which is similarly flagged so as to resemble a paper hedgehog.
Known for their inventive vegetable recipes, I find that especially in the late-winter doldrums the recipes in Ottolenghi always cheer me up. As my parsley plant seems to be doing well (note that I’ve only had it in my care for three days), a bit of it was pruned off the top to go into a lovely, refreshing fennel and feta salad with pomegranate seeds and sumac. « Read the rest of this entry »
March 9, 2012 § 4 Comments
Chickpeas and I go way back, starting from when I was a little kid and enjoyed eating them mashed up as hummus, and in college they appeared frequently both in my dining-hall meals, and later in curries when I lived in an apartment off-campus. More recently my fondness began to wane, prompted by a twelve dollar chickpea salad that was both appallingly dull and expensive.
Fortunately, Super Natural Every Day came along and reminded me that chickpeas are still part of a healthy diet and budget, thanks to the incredible chickpeas and kale with aleppo pepper and lemon recipe that I adapted from it. Spicy, tangy, and garlicky, with tender chickpeas nestled among kale leaves that retain just a bit of their bite, this salad is perfect to take to work for lunch, or for serving family-style at a relaxing dinner.
June 30, 2011 § 3 Comments
A crunchy, slightly bitter variant of radish, daikon, with its crisp texture and delicate flavor, makes a refreshing salad when thinly sliced and dressed with a tangy, creamy dressing with notes of soy sauce, mustard, and lemon. Daikon is often associated with Japanese cuisine, and at least in my experience daikon is typically made into really delicious pickles or into what is known as turnip cake (you may have tried it at a dim sum restaurant), which is a bit of a misnomer since there’s no turnip in turnip cake.
Aside from restaurants, typically daikon is available at Asian markets, but I actually spotted daikon at the grocery store the other day (Whole Foods, if you have one nearby) and squealed with excitement. Ignoring the many mutinous mumblings from a certain someone wishing to never go grocery shopping with me again in the future, I went in search of watercress so that I could make this daikon, mango, and watercress salad I’d read about earlier in the day.
The recipe itself is actually a British interpretation of a Japanese dish. But before you shudder off in horror, the British twist is supplied by none other than Jamie Oliver, who is one of the sources I turn to most when in search of new ideas for vegetables. « Read the rest of this entry »
May 6, 2011 § 4 Comments
It is always awkward for me, culinarily-speaking, in the few weeks before a move, thanks to my desire not to waste anything, thus requiring me to cook all the things (YAY!). Unfortunately I’ve discovered that my typical strategy to use up all these ingredients is to buy more and more ingredients in an attempt not to waste any previously acquired ingredients, a strategy that you’ve probably already guessed doesn’t work too well.
However, this week I was exceptionally successful at using up food without buying more. While in the process of ripping out articles from magazines that I want to keep, I came across the October 2010 issue of Real Simple, and found a great recipe I’d been meaning to try, this delicious sweet potato and Brie flatbread. Not only did it sound really good, I had all the ingredients already within reach: new herb plants on the windowsill (ok, so I sort of caved on the no-shopping front a few weeks back), sweet potatoes and shallots in my veggie basket on the counter, whole wheat flour and yeast in the freezer, and a new wheel of Brie in the cheese drawer of the fridge.