This probably makes no sense. The classic Levantine fattoush salad that I’ve mercilessly punned upon is the epitome of summer: tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, mint, parsley, garlic and lemon with pita chips that both do and do not soak up the dressing, in the best of ways. It’s bright, crunchy and the absolutely ideal thing to eat on a hot day. But at least on this coast, we’re done with beach days for a while. We’re done (or were supposed to be before today’s confusion) with open-toed shoes, permanently open windows, and going out without a jacket and not regretting it. The tomatoes are waning, the heavy orange vegetables and dark leafy greens are creeping in.
Brussels Sprouts Archive
Is there anything so dull as a brussels sprouts recipe just days after the brussels sprout-ing-est holiday of the year? No? Phew. Because these sprouts, they’re a long time coming. It took me forever to get them right. I’d originally intended them for the cookbook. I made them six different ways in the fall of 2010, and I never found what I was looking for. It was a year before I could even look at brussels again, and by that time, the book had moved on without them. But I had not.
It seems unfair to compare the two Brussels sprouts dishes I have made in the last couple weeks because they’re so different, about the only thing they have in common is the stand where I bought them. It’s like comparing apples and oranges, boiled lima beans and chocolate cake, the cuteness of my kid versus the cuteness of any other baby on earth… you know? One of the dishes is rich, salty-sweet and fork tender, the other is raw, slightly rubbery, acidic and at least according to a review on Epicurious that I probably should have taken more seriously, “was like eating a bowl of grass”. You’ll never guess which one we liked better.
Every so often, a recipe crosses my browser’s threshold and I know immediately that it Must Be Made. Surely, you know the feeling. This happens a lot more in the fall, because I simply love the cooking this time of year–warm, soupy, stewy and rich. We haven’t yet succumbed to hibernation and meals scraped from whatever was in the pantry because the famers’ markets looked so paltry, and you seriously cannot deal with another butternut squash.
Oh boy, so we already know what a pest I can be, right? Well, yesterday I had the honor of running what should have been simple errands and yet each was more aggravating than the last, from the Verizon guy that seriously did not understand what to do with my $100 phone credit, the dress which simply did not exist and a line of ten people keeping me from just asking where it could be found and an Aveda employee, oh just don’t get me started because I have nothing nice to say about their eerie breed of worker ants on 5th Avenue. When I got home, frozen like a cranky popsicle, I eagerly dug into the bag of groceries Alex had picked up for our dinner only to find that the store had only white cauliflower left, and I’d wanted the purple, orange and green! I decided that the recipe was boring and I didn’t want to make it at all if it couldn’t be pretty, and oh my god, could I be more annoying?
My inner seven-year-old told every single person she saw or spoke to today that she ate dukkah for dinner last night, but she pronounced it “dook-huh” to emphasize the very dookiness of it. My inner sever-year-old, mind you, not me. I am a civilized, professional woman of the age of 30 in sensible Italian boots and a tasteful cashmere sweater would never relish the first reaction of people who heard she ate something foul-sounding for dinner. Nope, not me, not at all.
Among the few Food Network chefs that don’t terrify me, Michael Chiarello is high on that list; his cooking, style and not overly-aggressive healthfulness fits cleanly with the type of foods I like to make and we like to eat. But, I have yet to make a recipe of his and it is, quite frankly, because he can be such a pain in the ass. The gray salt, the extra-virgin use for cooking, the $218 Balsamic, the fifteen-step recipes and his endless gadgets put me off. Would it still taste good from the kitchen of Simple Folk? Due to some haphazard sense of principle, I never bother finding out.