Raw Is All the Rage


Tom Colicchio was seriously mean last week when he pounded Jacqueline about how she didn’t know the recipe of her (failed) chicken liver mousse after preparing it hundreds of times. Jackie – I feel your pain. I have simmered enough bulgur wheat over the years that I should remember the proportions of water to grain and its cooking time. In fact, the first recipe I ever shared on Endless Simmer was for a salad with bulgur wheat.

But I still googled for a recipe. And this is when I found an awesome idea: cook bulgur with chickpeas. Because I never muster the forethought of soaking and boiling dried beans days ahead of when I would consume them, I always turn to canned beans. I don’t think to prep them very much. But now, I will think different. The Second Lunch provided guidance to cook a big batch of this bulgur wheat and chickpea combo and save it throughout the week for a few different meals. It took her up on it. Her timing was right on. But more, the chickpeas became ultra tender and not chalky as they sometimes can be coming right out of the can. So thank you, The Second Lunch. I dedicate this salad to you.

Raw Kale Salad with Bulgur, Chickpeas and Avocado in a Cottage Cheese-Red Wine Vinegar Dressing

Sorry, I had to name everything in the title of this salad. All of the ingredients are too important not to mention. Amongst my friends raw kale salad is becoming a major topic of conversation. Raw kale is not bitter like some greens and can take a huge smacking of an aggressively flavored dressing; the green just won’t wilt under its weight.

I decided to jump on the trend. On top of raw kale add cooked (like this) bulgur wheat and chickpeas, chunks of avocado, scallions and salt and pepper. In a small bowl mix two spoonfuls of cottage cheese with salt, pepper and red wine vinegar and pour over salad. (I asked, it’s okay to add cottage cheese to salad.)

Monday’s Chickpeas, Yesterday’s Pants


I’m writing today with a rather profound problem. The problem (which has manifested itself on a rather regular basis ever since I became distracted and engrossed in four simultaneous projects that have nothing whatsoever to do with cooking) finally crystallized for me a few nights back when I was over at my friend Alice’s place.

Alice complained that sometimes as she gets dressed in the morning she’s worried that she’s wearing “Yesterday’s pants” or “Last Friday’s Hair.” She has to think on it a little and go back through the Rolodex in her mind of the clothes she has worn and the styles she has sported over the last 5 or so days to make sure she’s not in repeat mode.

I have a similar problem, but it has nothing to do with clothes.  More and more often I find that I’m using Monday’s chickpeas in Wednesday’s four bean stew, or Tuesday’s broccoli in Thursday’s pasta.  Do you get my drift?  It’s not quite cheating I suppose, but I’m rather embarrassed by it, and it worries me.  I’m afraid I’m becoming a dull and forgetful cook.  I’m worried Romeo will notice.  I’m worried that this reusing (and sometimes recycling!) of ingredients is becoming an endemic trend in my kitchen that might turn me off of cooking altogether, or cause the main consumers of my cooking to ease their hunger at other troughs…

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Perfect Pattypans


Hey ESers, did you miss me? I missed you!  I’m afraid I’ve been gallivanting about for about a month and I have severely neglected ES in the meantime (and cooking in general).  I’ve been back for a week, and I must admit that my brain is a bit rusty and my cooking thus far has been less than inspired.  Does that ever happen to you all after a long time away from your kitchen?

I mean I was missing my kitchen the entire time I was gone, but my cooking muses seem to have expired during my brief journey, leaving me with only enough energy to cook a few stir-fries and throw together some salads.  Ugh….  Cookers’ block.

However, lucky readers, before I left for travels, I was struck by no such affliction.  In fact, just before I left I hosted a dinner party for which I pulled out all the stops. With my favorite summer ingredient at the ready  I made my most delicious  and complex pattypan dish yet:  Chickpea and Pesto Stuffed Pattypans:

stuffed pattypan with chickpeas topped with pesto

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Zucchini and Garam Masala


Back in April Nick from Macheesmo invited me to judge the first in a series of virtual cooking contests. Of course I was pumped to review bloggers’ attempts to create something interesting with potatoes and lemons, but I wanted to be on the other side.

Last week I was picked to be in this month’s fight. It’s a very simple duel, use two ingredients and make something awesome. That’s it. Except when one of the ingredients is something I’ve never worked with before: garam masala. (Zucchini is my favorite summer vegetable, so I was pretty excited to use it.)

I’ve messed around with curry a ton, but only a pre-mixed, commercial curry powder. I never really thought about making my own, of course until now. And I was seriously close to buying one, but just leaving another challenge that was all about using what’s on hand, I investigated my spice rack.

Using the link Nick provided for garam masala, I wrote down all of the ingredients that could possibly combine to create the spice blend. I then went to my kitchen and figured out I owned 11 of the spices and seeds.

Fuck it, I’m making my own.

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When There’s Nothing Left to Do Besides Saucin’ It


As much as I’m like *oooomigawd I LOVE the farmers’ market* or whatever, and I totally do love it, it sometimes overwhelms my judgment.

I love it too much. It’s like a freaking social for me. I’ve become BFF with one of the vendors, Jaci, who always makes fun of her farmer family and talks shit about picking vegetables. She’d never been more grateful than when she found out she was allergic to bees and therefore couldn’t harvest the crops with her uncle and grandfather.

And then there’s the market director, Rebbie. She’s tall and beautiful and may or may not have magenta hair on any given Saturday. Plus she’s nice as shit.

I also run into my neighbors and now fellow ES bloggers, Maids and Bliz.

There’s Mike, who I met when I interviewed him about his group DC Homebrewers, who has since quit his job to work full time for Tree and Leaf Farms. He now bags my ever changing order of greens (it was a mix of kale this week) and I’m not so secretly jealous that he’s out composting during the day while I’m staring at a computer screen.

Anyway, I’m so distracted by my market friends, and of course all of the food, that I always over buy. In my fridge right now I have too many herbs and veggies to deal with: asparagus, kale, squash, shelled peas (holy crap all you do is pull this little cord and open up the shell and then eat the peas like candy—so delish), and then there’s this other purple thing that starts with a “K” but I can’t remember the name of it. I will thank Jaci for that impulse buy. And then there’s sage, garlic chives and garlic scapes. Good christ.

Now this is not a bad thing, of course. I just need to find new and exciting ways to digest all of these veggies, especially on nights that I don’t feel like full-out cooking.

Jessica Seinfeld-esque sneak attack post jump.

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Hummus That’s Not Ho-Hum


About a year ago, I found out about Sabra hummus. My life has never been the same since.

I don’t know how I missed this product for my first 26.5 years, but somehow it just slipped under my radar. I’d dipped the Tribe, the Athenos stuff, and all the others, but somehow this particular brand just never crossed my path. But one dip in and I was hooked. So rich, so creamy, so fresh-tasting: for me Sabra stands heads, shoulders, knees and toes above the rest of the hummuses (hummusi?) Plus, they have versions that come with chopped red peppers, garlic, or pine nuts on top (although not enough pine nuts, if you ask me). Nevertheless, hummus instantly went from something I would try at a party if there was a good dipping vehicle, to something that is an perpetual presence in my fridge (except for when I eat the whole container in one sitting).

I realize this sounds like an advertisement, but I swear it’s not. My purpose isn’t to convert everyone to Sabra, but rather to rant about why the hell every other hummus can’t taste this good. I’ve been on a bit of a hummus-making kick myself lately, thanks to a few lessons from my Dad and Gansie (but not DAD GANSIE). I just food process chickpeas + tahini + lemon + garlic + olive oil + salt + pepper, and pine nuts if I’ve got them on hand (hey, it’s the recession). The result is always good, but never Sabra good. Seriously, what do these bastards put in their damn hummus to make it so tasty? And why can’t I recreate it at home? Being a good investigative reporter, I went straight to the source:

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