Thursday, May 29, 2014

carrot salad with tahini and crisped chickpeas

carrot salad with lemon and tahini

I have been gushing in the margins about David Lebovitz’s carrot salad (pardon! salade de carottes râpées) since I made it for the first time four years ago. It’s exquisite in its simplicity, just lemon juice, olive oil, a pinch of sugar, some salt, pepper, and rough-chopped parsley, all applied in that old-fashioned taste-as-you-go method that basically guarantees it will be perfectly seasoned when you’re done. (You do this with everything you cook, right? Yeah, I forget too.) And this week, as the carrots are towered high at markets, was the week I finally wanted to give it its due. But then I started thinking about that carrot soup we talked about in the early days of 2013, which we finished with a lemony-tahini swirl and topped with cumin and sea salt roasted chickpeas and how fantastically filling it was, a real meal in a bowl, and decided we needed a fresh spring-summer spin on it.

salt and cumin-toasted chickpeas
a pound of carrots

I have zero regrets. While no carrot salad could or should replace the perfection of the French classic, this is equally deserving of a place in the annals, right alongside this harissa, feta and mint stunner a lovely person sent me four years ago. Zinging with lemon, nutty with tahini, flecked with parsley, topped with almost smoky roasted chickpeas and then some chopped salted pistachios, I don’t think I’ve ever had a bowl of grated carrots with so much complexity, so much to consider.

lemon tahini dressing

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, May 22, 2014

soft pretzel buns and knots

pretzel hot dog and hamburger buns

Guess what we’re making this weekend?

I have been obsessed with make soft pretzels at home since about 16 seconds after I learned that you could, 7 years ago. For something that looks so twisted, dark and complex, they’re actually simple to make, requiring only a basic bread dough (flour, water, salt and yeast), formed into pretzel knot (a rope with the ends twisted together, then folded back over itself), dipped briefly in a baking soda solution, salted, and baked until pretty. This is almost exactly the way they are made in southern Germany and surrounding pretzel-loving regions, save one bit: instead of a baking soda bath, the pretzels are dipped in a lye solution. Lye, as in the poison. As in the stuff used in oven cleaners, drain openers, the kind of thing you shouldn’t touch without a mask and latex gloves, the kind of thing no sane cook would bother with at home.

what you'll need for the pretzel dough
making the dough

Or so this was the case nearly a decade ago. In the time since, as the DIY/handmade/homemade ethos has swept the food-curious population, things that once seemed adorably old-fashioned (pressure cookers, water bath canning, freezer jams, just to begin) or just plain nuts to do at home (making you own bitters, butter, or barley hops) have become delightfully mainstream, and I suspect directly related to this shift, the last five times I’ve read about pretzel-making at home, seemingly sane people with their whole lives ahead of them have suggested that you, another seemingly sane person who probably didn’t have Dabble In Harmful Chemicals Because This Food Blogger Told Me To on your holiday weekend agenda, should go buy lye, done some gloves and goggles and make Laugenbrezeln as if you were a 10th generation baker in Bavaria. No big deal at all.

the kneaded dough

Continued after the jump »

Friday, May 16, 2014

five egg sandwiches

three-pepper shakshuka with feta and za'atar

I came down with a Man Cold* and laryngitis** this week and it’s totally cramping my game, or it would be, if I had any. It’s pretty clear what the cold expects of me I’d like to it leave: loads of sleep, little activity and probably some bad reality television. But as I keep interpreting this as: go to a bookstore event, go to another great talk, take laptop to Genius Bar, watch my wind-up bug go… — essentially my rule for this week has been, if it’s a tightly-packed enclosed space a few degrees too warm with zero air circulation, I’ll be right over! — I shouldn’t be surprised that on Day 6 of this mess, I’m still a pill to be around.

three-pepper shakshuka

The only thing I like less is seeing this site go quiet while I wait for my appetite/creativity/enthusiasm to return, which gives me the perfect excuse to share some egg sandwiches I teased you with in December but have been hoarding since (seriously) 2012, when I created them for a magazine that never ended up running them. They’re short on process photos (though I’ve now experienced the vagaries of freelance life enough times to know: always take photos, lots of them) and lengthy details, but we enjoyed them all quite a bit at the time and will hopefully serve as a springboard for you for your own breakfast sandwich endeavors.

three-pepper shakshuka

Continued after the jump »

Friday, May 9, 2014

strawberry rhubarb crisp bars

strawberry rhubarb breakfast crisp bars

Look, I have no business giving dating advice. Or marital advice. I didn’t, like, scope the scene or learn the rules or think big thoughts about what kind of person would be the right person for me when I walked into a bar 11 years ago and met this guy for a drink. Nevertheless, if you were to try isolate a single trait essential in a life partnership, I think you should look for a person who is pro-whim — that is, encourages you to have whims and pursue them, for better or for worse. Does that sound too abstract? Okay, fine; let me propose instead the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Bar Test, which should be enlisted as follows. 1. Find a potential mate. 2. Say, “Do I need to good reason to make strawberry-rhubarb pie bars?” 3. If they answer, as mine did on Monday, “Nope. I think they’re always welcome,” you’re probably on the right track. If nothing else, your weekend is about to get tastier.

mix the dry ingredients right in the pan
add the butter

I’d been daydreaming about a late spring riff on an apple-crisp-in-the-pan bars since I got the One Bowl Baking book last fall. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a pie-like cookie bar I didn’t like, but still, these made me nervous because they seemed so (ewww) wholesome. There are more whole grains than white flour, less sugar and less butter than any other cookie bar I’ve ever made. How could this be good? Silly Deb, I should have just trusted the author implicitly. Yvonne Ruperti is a former Cook’s Illustrated writer, America’s Test Kitchen on-air host and bakery owner, so you could say she knows a few things about baking.

mix it right in the baking pan

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

fresh spinach pasta

fresh spinach pasta

I had the strangest weekend. My husband went to New Orleans for a bachelor party and my in-laws insisted upon watching my son for one of the nights he was away. I was all set to argue that I probably could handle a single potty-trained, getting-himself-dressed, occasionally listening almost-5 year-old for all of 48 hours but when I opened my mouth the only words that came out were, “Thank you! What a fantastic idea!”

on my coffee table this weekend
baby spinach leaves

All of a sudden, I was flying completely solo for the first time in half a decade and I had no idea what to do with myself. Would I finally clean the apartment? Would I have a giant party? Would I go away by myself for the night, just because I could? Would I watch two matinees in a row and eat popcorn and Reese’s pieces for dinner? Why had I not been planning for this day my all five years I’d had to think about it; I bet when Jacob was 8 months old and hadn’t slept through the night for any of them, I had a crystal-clear idea of where I’d run if given the chance. (Spoiler: Back to bed. Or Paris! Or both!) But that was then and this was Saturday. So, I went for a haircut. I took a walk. I ducked into tiny bookstores and bought new things for everyone to read. With friends, I went for manicures and pedicures, ordered cava and tapas, and stuffed wedding invitations. I slept in! I got a massage with a gift certificate I received over 3 years ago! I finished the book I was reading and started a new one! I realize this is probably the dullest story ever told, but I honestly couldn’t believe the lap of limitless luxury my life had become. I can’t believe there are people that live like this every single day; I can’t believe I was once one of them. This is probably how having kids turns you into one of those fuddy-duddies you remember your parents being.

wilted spinach

Continued after the jump »


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