Saturday, September 22, 2007

carrot salad with garlic and dates


It’s Yom Kippur today, so why am I writing about food? Well, last night while figuring out our dinner options we were trying to come up with a quick and tasty way to use our carrots, which were hanging out happily in the fridge, but a few more days and Yom Kippur today and my Sunday business trip (Sunday, I know), it was either now or never with these carrots.

Now, I’m pretty weird when it comes to carrots. I love them raw and I love them in things like chicken soup. In fact, as a kid I loved carrots in my soup so much that my mom would always put in extra carrots in my bowl and they would be the first things I would eat. I think I even made up a song about eating carrots in my soup. The blurry memory is lazily rolling around in my head, but luckily I can’t remember the song! And yet, when my mom made stewed carrots (tzimmes), I would refuse to touch the mushy, orange mess on my plate. Boiled soup carrots were fine, but the stewed carrots were not. I’m still fickle with my carrots, not to such an extent, but some cooked carrots I won’t go near.

DSC_0006 DSC_0011

I’ve got to confess I’ve cooked nary a thing this week. It’s been a confluence of events – my office relocated further uptown and east, and coming from Tribeca has managed to make my work commute 45 minutes door to door. I know, living in Manhattan and spending 45 minutes each day twice a day commuting, is pretty sad. And work has picked up so much. There are meetings and conference calls and business trips and of course work that you do at your desk to add!! So when I would come home at 7:30 or later, my lovely KS had dinner waiting for me – so the next few entries will be about his magical and filling concoctions. We’d eat, and by 8:30, I’d be pretty much a tired, lackluster monkey.

Ah, but the carrots! I thought, at first, to shred them and mix them with a generous serving of freshly chopped garlic, some raisins and olive oil. But then my heart (and stomach) earned for something warm. Since I just told you about my cooked carrot dislike, you understand my conundrum. And then, a little idea appeared in my head and I was all aflutter – I could warm the carrots with some sesame oil and sesame seeds and voila – I’ll have a meal I like. I added some garlic to the carrots along with a little bit of curry mix. Some salt, a couple of minced dates, and the warmed carrots were done. The whole process grating and all took about 15 minutes. How’s that for dinner in a hurry? We ate our carrots with the remnants of the picadillo KS made the night before. While I liked my carrots just fine, KS loved the orangey warmth. The trick is to just warm the carrots and not cook them – this way you preserve the texture and taste of raw carrots, but give it a little more of that fall comfort. Looking back, I would have added a dash of cinnamon. And if we had any cilantro, the dish would have sparkled even more! But in no time, we ate a tasty dish and salvaged the contents of our crisper!

And now that I’m sufficiently hungry, Yom Kippur seems even longer to me. Fasting isn’t a food blogger’s strongest suit. How long will I last? I have low expectations for myself!

Continue reading carrot salad with garlic and dates.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

apple and yogurt cake

i love apple  baked anything... no really, i do!

Sally Albright: But I’d like the pie heated and I don’t want the ice cream on top, I want it on the side, and I’d like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it, if not then no ice cream just whipped cream but only if it’s real; if it’s out of the can then nothing.
Waitress: Not even the pie?
Sally Albright: No, I want the pie, but then not heated.

And this, my friends, is how I often will order food. First off there’s the complete reinvention of the recipe, which undoubtedly annoys both the waiter and the chef. And then adding insult to injury, the instructions I give are so unclear that the waiter will have to ask me the second time to repeat what I said. And this happens over and over to me.

Since I’ve completely switched gears from summer into fall, I’m done with the summer fruit (berry crumbles – I’ll see you later); I’ve been thinking apples, apples, apples. It donned on me two weeks ago that Rosh Hashana was right around the corner and an apple dessert would be in order. But what? The apple pie, as much as I love it, would be the expected apple treat, but my heart longed for something new, something different. I attribute this fickle mind of mine to living in New York. We get so spoiled here, and develop the attention span of a goldfish – four seconds and we forget the “traditional” or we get tired of it. Like spoiled children we look to new, shiny recipes like the new, shiny toys of our childhood. And those of us with food blogs take the cake (pardon the pun) for our demand of the new, shiny recipes. The recipe we haven’t yet written about, the recipe with stunning new photos, the recipe with a new take. This is where I found myself at the beginning of last week. Apple pie? Apple eh…

my cake's got cellulite a view from the top

Enter ever-so-creative Deb with her apple yogurt cake from her new, shiny book “The New Spanish Table”. Deb, I’ve been given a cook-book buying moratorium by KS, so I will have to mooch off of you and other bloggers with sexier cook books. The cake in Deb’s pictures looked stunning, as usual, but as soon as I saw the words like “licorice” and “anise” and “Sambucca”, I paused, for while there are folks out there whose taste buds have morphed to like the dreaded substances above, mine have never adjusted and I don’t foresee that changing. Say the words “pastis” and “pernod” and you’ll see me recoil in horror.

So I took Sambucca out and added Calvados instead. I also mixed my own lemon yogurt by combining plain yogurt with fresh-squeezed lemon juice. The only time-consuming task was finely chopping the apples. But the rest of the process was a snap. And I think that in the future, I’ll play with yogurt flavors and various liqueurs. I just might, as a sick joke on my self, try it with Sambucca one day, but honestly, I don’t see myself enjoying it. I’ve experimented plenty in that flavor department and all I could find in the end was a taste that deeply displeased my palate. The appliness of this cake (why no, appliness is not an actual word, I just made it up – so?) pleased me and KS – making it a perfectly timed treat for Rosh Hashana, now a week behind us. Sigh – time flies so fast.

shana tovah! minced

So Sally Albright or not, I like things just the way I like them. Even if I have to repeat my order a few more times, so long as I get a cake I like!

Continue reading apple and yogurt cake.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

lima beans with tomatoes and onions

butter beans with green and yellow tomatoes

Sometimes I have this elaborate story to tell you about how this or that recipe came to me. And at other times, I don’t. I have cravings I cannot quite rationalize, I then will literally dream about the dish and the next day I must make it or hell will freeze over.

KS has by now learned not to argue with my cravings. Even at times when we have other food in the fridge practically going to waste – if I get that look in my eyes, all bets are off. It’s on occasions like these that I develop what he calls “food hands”. I’d be shoving a forkful of food in my mouth and hear him say under his breath, “Foodhands!!” For the readers scratching their heads over the term, imagine, if you will, preternatural hand speed made popular in the Matrix series, but focused on food consumption as opposed to hacking your enemy to bits. Food hands seem to say, “Come near me and my food, and scary things might happen to you.” Apparently, my diminutive stature is very deceiving when it comes to feeding myself.

my favorite beans

After our SC sojourn, I’ve been craving large lima beans, the kind you soak over night and cook for over an hour the next day. The kind that when expand are as big as well-sized almonds. They’re also often called butter beans, and in my lexicon they’re called “edible bliss”. They are indeed very buttery, earthy, filling and definitely satisfying. They’re my favorite bean in the whole wide world and I could probably eat them if not every day, then very often indeed.

And that’s about all on these beans. With the abundant and sinfully good tomatoes we have in season right now, these beans are simply heavenly. And with fall creeping up on us, they’re somewhat of a good segue into the season. A little earthy and yet when eaten cold the next day (that is if you have leftovers) – a little summery. Or if you want to puree them in a food processor and serve warm, drizzled with some good olive oil, they’re heavenly on crostini.

Of course, with a dish this good – you too could develop food hands. And then your loved ones might be in danger.

Continue reading lima beans with tomatoes and onions.