Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Thanksgiving can be very beige. Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and cheese and crackers don't exactly stand out against the backdrop of a grey November sky. If you see watermelon radishes at your farmers market or grocery store, grab them for tomorrow. Slice them up with some lime juice, salt and olive oil and put them next to the cheese and crackers. It will brighten up the room and make you forget for a moment that it's cold and grey out there. Happy Thanksgiving!
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
We are not traveling for Thanksgiving. My parents are coming to us! I will not have to endure five hours stuck in a car with two kids. I will not have to pass cheddar bunnies over my head to the backseat, being careful not to turn around and get carsick. I will not have to listen to Daniel Tiger on the iPad or worse…Annecy screaming. And I will not have to pay outrageous amounts of money to rent a car in Manhattan or feel guilty that Ryan is riding his bike over the George Washington Bridge in 20 degree weather to get a cheaper car. In sum, I was feeling very thankful.
And then my mom told me they had ordered the entire Thanksgiving dinner from Whole Foods. I was on the verge of making a scene and whining about how I wanted to make mushroom and sausage stuffing like this and green bean casserole with crispy onions like this. But then I started picturing a relaxing day sipping martinis, eating cheese and cracker and warming up the dinner instead of peeling potatoes, chopping onions and pretending I felt like cooking nine separate dishes. Sold!
To make a long story short, knowing that I don’t have to cook Thanksgiving dinner has given me a burst of cooking energy this week. I have wanted to try Fesenjan for years. It’s a classic Persian dish of chicken, pomegranates and walnuts. I read a bunch of recipes but settled on this one because it was the easiest and I figured if it was good, why make it more complicated?
I would leave out the honey if your pomegranate molasses has added sugar and I used cilantro instead of parsley. It’s delicious and festive to look at. It reminds me a bit of the Mexican dish chiles en nogada. Maybe I’ll try that tomorrow. There is still time!
Monday, November 25, 2013
This is a phenomenal soup. The sweetness of the carrots is perfectly balanced by the lemon, tahini and salty beans. And crisped chickpeas are great to have around as snacks so make extra.
This weekend I made it just to have around in case we got caught between meals. This happens a lot in NYC. People invite you to brunch at 2 pm but if you have kids, chances are you have been up since 7 a.m. Soup to the rescue. I also knew we were going to the Museum of Natural History this weekend which is code for eating at Shake Shack. So we actually had it for breakfast on Sunday. Guilt averted. Well….look at those burgers…maybe it’s more like guilt mitigated?
Thursday, November 21, 2013
I don’t eat enough mushrooms. I love mushrooms – although only when cooked –but somehow they rarely make into my recipe rotation. I suspect it’s because I’m usually cooking some sort of meat with a vegetable and mushrooms don’t seem to count as a vegetable in my mind. They aren’t green enough.
This week I decided to try out a recipe that makes mushrooms the centerpiece of your meal.
I used cremini and king trumpet mushrooms. It was my first time buying trumpet mushrooms and I initially balked at the price. But then I realized I would pay just as much for chicken so it was just a matter of changing my mindset. It was worth the splurge. King Trumpet mushrooms are awesome. When you google king trumpet mushrooms recipes, the first thing that comes up is vegan ‘bacon’ from king trumpet mushrooms. If these mushrooms are the closest vegans can get to bacon, you know they are good.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
We have a rice maker that has gotten a lot of use ever since we splurged on it in Chinatown over ten years ago. Usually, however, we use it to make basic white rice to accompany stir fry dishes, curries or soups. Occasionally I’ll doctor the rice up with some garlic or chicken broth but it’s simply a platform on which to serve the main dish. Ottolenghi’s recipe for Chicken with Cardamom Rice from his Jerusalem cookbook takes rice to a whole other level. In this dish, the chicken takes a back seat to the delicious rice that is flavored with caramelized onions, cinnamon sticks, cardamom, cloves and currants.
It’s a one pot dish that actually comes together fairly quickly. I have made it exactly how the recipe suggests but I have also substituted boneless, skinless chicken thighs. If you are on a budget (Hi self!), you can use just one of the three suggested fresh herbs. I tried to pass this off to Xavier as ‘rice with raisins’ as he was feeling under the weather and is a fan of both. He took one look at the cardamom pods and whole cloves poking out of the rice and went back to watching TV. I guess the plain white rice cooker will continue to steam away in our house…
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Ever since Annecy was born, I cheat more on my restricted diet. I feel a lot less guilty doing damage to my own thyroid than hers! To prepare for last weekend’s trip to San Francisco however, I decided to make a healthy vegan dish that would justify all my California cheating. Think Anchor Steam beer, giant burritos, chili and cheese tamales, dim sum, pastries from La Boulangerie and wedding cake.
Nigel Slater’s cookbook Tender had this interesting looking recipe that caught my attention since it seemed like a good way to get through my dried chickpeas, frozen lemongrass and under-used mustard seeds.
It is a fair amount of work but it results in hearty, complex curry that didn’t leave me craving the addition of chicken or shrimp. I even packed some to go for the plane and it was good cold. Yes…I was the weirdo on the plane eating vegan curry, pumping in my seat and watching Gael Garcia Bernal. (Check out his most recent flic “No” about Pinochet!) Anyways, the irony of this pre-trip healthy eating was that I was flying to northern California. Had I wanted to, I could have had gluten-free, vegan beer, Mexican food, and dessert. This is the land of Berkley after all. But what fun would that be?!
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Every mom has something (many things!) they feel guilty about and then they have their tricks to make themselves feel better. For me, cooking for Xavier makes me feel like a good mom. There is no logic behind this. Xavier doesn’t like my co
oking and would much rather eat pasta and butter. And when I’m cooking, he’s usually watching TV or begging me to play trains with him. But for whatever reason, I still insist on going out of my way to make him homemade goodies. For his birthday, the day after Halloween, I thought I would be clever and make pumpkin cupcakes. I was feeling incredibly virtuous for actually making the cupcakes for a bunch of toddler I barely know and for sneaking in a vegetable.
When I picked him up at daycare, I asked him if he liked his cupcakes. In blunt toddler fashion, he said “No. They were too spicy.” Spicy??? Ay ay ay. Whose kid is this and how can he think ground ginger is spicy when it’s surrounded by cups of sugar and cream cheese frosting?! For his actual birthday party, I made vanilla cupcakes with Reeces Pieces. Zzzzzz. I snuck two spicy ones in there (the ones with cinnamon sprinkled on them) and the adults gave a thumbs up.