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Musing

Veg Noodles With Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, and Spinach

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I feel like so many recipe¬†headlines I see lately scream “THIS DINNER IS FAST” “BREAKFAST READY¬†12 SECONDS OR LESS” “MAKE A 5-COURSE MEAL IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE,” and it upsets me. No one has time for real food, and many¬†won’t even click¬†on a recipe unless it specifically is titled “X minutes or less”‚ÄĒeven though, had they bothered to scroll down, they would’ve seen that the total time clearly states “25 minutes.”

An article published last month called out the most popular food of the past forty years, and 2016’s was simply “viral food.” We literally don’t care about what we’re eating anymore as long as it’s trending. Food editors have to¬†consider such¬†things, because food media is a business, and online businesses have to listen to the metrics, or they will die. But we also should be brave enough¬†to change the conversation sometimes, and maybe the clickers will follow.

So many people don’t want to learn how to dice¬†an onion, yet loudly want you to know how much of a “foodie” they are because they went to a restaurant other than Se√Īor Frog’s to celebrate #nationaltequiladay. They look at beautifully-styled vegan smoothie bowls on Instagram and read every article about sweet potato toast, then go home to defrost pre-chopped vegetables and bake a boneless, skinless chicken breast. It’s disappointing, because everyone can do more.

This recipe is a product of lots of chopping, but also incorporates spiral slicing vegetables into noodles. Which yes, is one of those viral foods¬†I was passing judgement on mere moments ago‚ÄĒthough I do NOT call them “zoodles,” because gross. Really, I’m not a hypocrite; I do think there are certain edible¬†trends¬†that take off for a good reason. People love pasta and hate vegetables, so when a¬†trend makes veg¬†as fun to eat (and as neutral-tasting as) pasta, you get people who’ve never bought a zucchini in their lives excited to go to the produce aisle. That’s amazing. But then there are trends like the rainbow grilled cheese and the goddamn avocado burger bun¬†(which everyone seems to be really excited about, and which¬†I honestly just do. not. get. Weren’t burgers already messy enough? How do you literally EAT a five inch-tall sandwich?? Don’t we already put avocados on burgers? Does this mean¬†the lettuce-wrap is over?) that just make no sense. People only care about them because everyone else seems to. It’s like middle school all over again, and I’m not about it.

There are certain things about food we should care about, things that should be going viral. Enough to eat for dinner tonight. A farmer’s market coming to your town. Make these things trendy, and the food world will get better. Instagram the¬†dinner you cooked with your friends! Tweet about your fresh vegetables! Write a click-bait-y article about chef’s knife safety! You get the gist.

Veg Noodles With Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, and Spinach (serves 4-6)

2 large zucchini
2 small yellow squash
1 beet
2 large red onions
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1 pint orange grape tomatoes
2 large cloves of garlic
large handful of fresh basil
a few tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Good pinch Kosher salt
Lots of fresh black pepper
5 ounces baby spinach (about 2 cups)
Feta, for serving

Slice the zucchini, squash, and beet into noodles with a spiral slicer (or veg peeler, julienne peeler, etc.)

Roughly chop the onions and olives, thinly slice the tomatoes and garlic, and chiffonade the basil (reserving a few tablespoons for serving).

Heat a large wok pan over medium and pour in a few glugs of olive oil. Add onions and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add veg noodles, olives, tomatoes, and basil. Cook for 2-3 minutes; then add wine, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Add spinach and cook just until the greens wilt.

Serve with reserved basil and crumbled fresh feta.

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Pictured: Kyocera Ceramic Coated Nonstick Wok and Kuhn Rikon Colori+ Classic Professional Set.

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Book Review, Main Dishes, Sides

Hemsley + Hemsley Green Goddess Noodle Salad

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If you’ve ever made a zucchini noodle, gnawed on refined sugar-free chocolate fudge, or dug a fork into a mason jar salad, give a nod to all the health bloggers and wellness sites out there, but mostly thank the Hemsley sisters. Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley‚ÄĒknown more commonly as Hemsley + Hemsley‚ÄĒlaunched their brand¬†in 2010, focusing on flavor and relying less on¬†gluten, grains and refined sugar. Lovers of cooking and eating, the Hemsleys began as healthy cooks and caterers for private clients and events, but soon proved to be working towards a larger goal.

To improve their clients’¬†relationships with food, the Hemsleys emphasize the importance of digestive¬†health, and are generally on a mission to make eating well a joyful experience. Their first book, The Art of Eating Well,¬†solidified the Hemsley + Hemsley name as a go-to for all foodstuffs related to making healthier choices, without perpetuating a culture of deprivation. The ladies’ sophomore book is¬†Good + Simple, which dives deeper into their aim to “coach people away from fad diets and unhealthy eating towards an appreciation of the power of real food, properly sourced and correctly prepared.”

The ingenuity behind the¬†Hemsley + Hemsley philosophy is that these women understand that in order to maintain any sort of lifestyle, (“healthy” or otherwise) the methodology must be simple enough to participate in not just often, but every day. Jasmine and Melissa do not suggest¬†that their audience throw out all evidence of bread in their kitchens and become spiral-slicing,¬†grain- and refined sugar-free droids. But they do want to advocate that their practice is attainable enough to introduce into anyone’s routine. Yes, there is a green juice recipe in this book, and zucchini noodles aplenty; but flip a few pages and you’ll find¬†pulled pork and plum clafoutis.

Further, there’s a¬†notion to emphasize a¬†deeper thought process behind eating and cooking: The food we put into our mouths shouldn’t just taste good and look good, it should be thoughtfully¬†sourced. Their¬†holistic approach to food is broken down¬†to three simple words‚ÄĒdelicious, nutritious, sustainable. H + H uses a 15-principle guide, which I find to be refreshingly contrary to the plethora of touters of Health-with-a-capital-H that are so easily lumped together:

  1. Gut instinct
  2. Boil your bones
  3. Forget calories, think nutrients
  4. Meat and two veg
  5. Going against the grain
  6. Fat is your friend
  7. Sweet enough
  8. Drink to think
  9. The real deal
  10. Know your onions
  11. Prepare, chew and combine
  12. Be mindful
  13. Stress less
  14. Tune in
  15. The “better than” rule

I won’t go into what each point means, but I hope you read through them¬†if you find yourself a copy of the book. (In fact, read through all the text¬†that doesn’t precede a recipe. They have something to say; something I can’t paraphrase in a short review.) ¬†The very fact that there are so many “principles” affirms that the Hemsleys¬†understand there’s more to¬†eating than one defining term for everything one puts in their body.¬†Relying¬†on food guidelines rather than restrictions is not only more attainable, but makes for happier eaters.

In addition to the recipes, Good + Simple includes advice for stocking a kitchen, two weekly menu plans (and shopping lists!), and suggestions for lifestyle habits like having a nighttime routine, drinking water, and making time for gentle exercise.

Good + Simple¬†is a cookbook you can actually cook from, which can be a rarity these days. The following recipe is the first I cooked from this book, and I strongly recommend it‚ÄĒfor dinner tonight, lunch next week, or for any upcoming potlucks. While I was slightly turned off by the title, (“green goddess” dressing is a¬†thick,¬†mint-colored substance I truly despise) the photos led me to believe I was not going to be pur√©eing anything¬†creamy. It’s a fresh and immensely flavor-packed¬†dish that was as satisfying to put in my mouth as it was to look at. After three servings for dinner, I went right back to the (plentiful) leftovers for the next two days. The recipe is¬†a keeper, as is the book.

Green Goddess Noodle Salad [from Hemsley Hemsley Good + Simple, by Jasmine Hemsley and Melissa Hemsley, serves 4 as main]

SALAD
10 ounces buckwheat (soba) noodles
1 tablespoon extra-version olive oil
10 ounces broccoli florets or purple-sprouting broccoli, asparagus, or green beans
1 medium green cabbage or bok choy, leaves shredded
1 meduim fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeds scooped out, and flesh chopped
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1 large avocado, sliced
2 handfuls fresh greens (watercress, baby spinach, lettuce, leftover cooked kale)
1 small handful of nuts (cashews, peanuts, or almonds) or seeds (sesame, sunflower, or poppy)
4 handfuls fresh herbs (cilantro, mint, or basil), roughly chopped

DRESSING
Grated zest and juice of 2 limes or 1 lemon
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated
1¬Ĺ -inch piece of fresh root ginger (unpeeled if organic), finely grated
2 teaspoons tamari
A pinch of cayenne pepper or chili flakes (optional)
Sea salt and black pepper

Cook the buckwheat noodles in a large pan of boiling water according to the packet instructions (about 7 minutes). Use two forks to tease the noodles apart during the first minute of cooking.

When they are tender, drain and rinse under cold water for 15 seconds. Drain again and then toss in the EVOO in a large serving bowl to stop the noodles sticking together. Set aside.

Using the same pan, after a quick rinse, steam the broccoli (or other vegetable), covered with a lid, in 4 tablespoons of boiling water for 4 minutes until tender.

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl or shake in a jam jar with the lid on. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then drain.

Add the raw vegetables, spring onions and avocado to the noodles with the greens and steamed broccoli. Pour over the dressing and mix everything together. Top with the nuts or seeds, toasted in a dry pan for a minute if you like, and the fresh herbs.

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NOTE: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. Check out this review on their website too!

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Desserts, Snacks

Vanilla Coconut Popsicles

One of my earliest memories is eating a coconut popsicle. A creamy white pop¬†with little bits of shredded coconut sprinkled throughout. I don’t remember where I was, or who I was with, specifically. And maybe the memory is actually a blur of many popsicles, the result of countless visits to roaming trucks and Central Park kiosks, but I¬†can close my eyes and see my fingers ripping through the flimsy plastic. I know I was three or four, and the moment I unwrapped the pop, it began melting down the stick in the hot Manhattan sun, cream getting dangerously close to my fingers. I’ve had many a coconut “froz fruit” since those first few, and this happens every time. I’m a little more okay with the meltdown now, (I’m fairly sure I was the only kid to really really really hate being sticky)¬†and every time I pass a truck it takes everything in my power not to buy three.

In celebration of summer and Billy’s #popsicleweek¬†(!!) I felt it was high time to take a whack at these in my own kitchen.

All I hoped to achieve with my own version of this popsicle was that slightly chewy consistency that comes from all pre-packaged ice cream truck confections. Let it be known I’m not talking about that taffy-like quality that New England-style ice cream does so well (shoutout to Herrell’s in Northampton, which supplied me with my delightfully chewy birthday ice cream sundaes and homemade chocolate whipped cream from 2011-2015). No, I’m talking about the kind of icy texture¬†that comes only as a¬†result of bumping around in the back of a¬†Mister Softee freezer for months at a time, temperature going up and down by day, even by hour. The treats¬†start to melt, then freeze back up, then melt again. Once they’re unwrapped and bitten, it’s clear the contents aren’t a solid mixture, but a hundred¬†million coconut-flavored snowflakes.

It’s impossible to create the real thing, but I’ve come pretty close. I added a hit of vanilla, which is technically not part of the classic pop, but¬†I think it added a little something special. The recipe is wildly simple too, for more time eating popsicles and less time¬†debating whether this was worth it, and if you should’ve just¬†walked outside to a truck.

A note on the sweetener for this recipe: Anything will do, it simply depends on your preference. If you want to notice the flavor, use honey or maple syrup; if you don’t, use powdered sugar. Completely your call. As for the chocolate, I personally prefer dark chocolate in general, but I’ve found that semisweet makes for that classic, barely cloying magic shell-type coating, which is actually kinda great. Again, the choice is yours.

There can never truly be enough popsicles, so do yourself a favor and head over to the #popsicleweek homepage on Wit & Vinegar for about a million more wildly creative and delicious-sounding frozen treats.

Vanilla Coconut Popsicles

1 (13.5 ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
¬Ī2 tablespoons desired liquid sweetener (honey, syrup, coconut nectar, etc.) OR 1/4 cup powdered sugar (see note above)
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut

Optional:
2-6 ounces 80% dark or semisweet chocolate, chopped (you’ll need more for dipping, less for drizzle)
1 teaspoon coconut oil
flakey sea salt

Place all ingredients in the first list except shredded coconut in a blender and blitz for 25-40 seconds, or until well mixed. Add shredded coconut and blend for a few seconds just to incorporate. Pour mixture into a prepared popsicle mold. Freeze for about 4 hours.

If you’re interested in doing a chocolate dip or drizzle: Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a double boiler, then remove from the heat. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. If dipping: Pour the chocolate into a tall heat-proof jar. Un-mold the pops one at a time, dip, let excess chocolate drip off, then place the pops on the baking sheet and return to¬†the freezer for a few minutes. If drizzling: Working quickly, un-mold all the pops and place then on the baking sheet. Drizzle the chocolate on with a spoon, then return to the freezer for a few minutes.

ūüĒúūüĒúūüĒú #popsicleweek

A video posted by Rebecca Firkser (@ruhbekuhlee) on

 

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Breakfasts, Musing, Snacks

Breakfast [or Anytime You Damn Well Please] Muffins

Who do you want to be when you grow up?¬†I was asked a few weeks ago at an interview. I knew I wouldn’t find the¬†answer¬†scribbled in my notes, between ideas for recipe development and the blurb about what¬†makes my voice ~unique~. I’ve never been asked something like this¬†by a potential employer, and it was a¬†decently pleasant¬†surprise. And I bet its answer gives a little more insight into a person than asking whether they’re a strategic or tactical thinker, or where they see themself in five years.

When I was very small, I wanted to be an actress. I was that obnoxious eight year old who sang all the time: at family gatherings, in the grocery store, in the bathrooms at school for optimal echoes. I wanted to be on stage so badly. Itching to play Cosette or Belle or Maureen, I memorized the words to every soundtrack I got my hands on. I sang along with the familiar lyrics every week as I spooned out cookie dough onto baking sheets after school.

Then came the crippling stage fright. The heart-pounding, voice-shaking panic overtook me all at once‚ÄĒwhile I was onstage, no less. I was thirteen, auditioning for the middle school musical. Fourteen seconds into singing, I couldn’t hear the music over the pounding in my chest. I don’t remember if I even made it to the chorus.¬†We heard Becca was a really good singer.¬†I overheard one¬†of the girls in the audience say.¬†I wonder what happened?¬†

My greatest dream a crumbled mess of embarrassment, I moved backstage.¬†With the faintest taste of bitter on my tongue, I sewed the hems¬†and smeared foundation and lipstick on the kids who weren’t rendered mute under the spotlight. But I liked being close to the stage, and costuming was fun. I sliced through my best trays of¬†thick fudgy¬†brownies, brought the dark squares to¬†tech week and thought, this is something I could do with myself.

While I applied to college¬†with “journalism” and “studio art” selected on the Common App’s Major intention section, I rolled up to day one at Smith planning to declare theatre design the bulk of¬†my coursework. Which shoes would a¬†Chekhovian woman woman wear to walk around the orchard? How do six identical suits convey the hierarchy of office politics? Who would paint their nails red; why wouldn’t he wear this hat, but that one?¬†I thought about color and exposed skin.

Cutting patterns didn’t give me the same feeling of purpose as it seemed to give¬†my peers and professors. I was good at it, and felt proud seeing the finished productions, but I didn’t enjoy it. I took a job in the art museum over the costume shop. I stopped sketching for fun. I grew to dread those orange walls. The building smelled like stress.

I graduated with a specific degree in this field I’d¬†entered into by default. I wouldn’t be applying to theatres or MFA programs, but I left the Pioneer Valley¬†knowing what I wanted to do.

Food is what drives me, and writing is the way I package ingredients into substance. This past weekend was the¬†fourth anniversary of writing this blog, and this is my 200th official post. I’ve been out of school for a long year. A year of cover letters and¬†internships and¬†almosts.

I snapped to attention to give an answer at the interview. I pretty good one, I think.


I’ve taken to making these muffins every two weeks or so, for easily transportable snacking. There are a million ingredients, yes, but I think they’re worth it.

Breakfast Muffins (GF, makes 12-15)

1 cup oats
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup chickpea flour
2/3 cup brown rice flour
2 tablespoons arrowroot starch (cornstarch gets the job done too)
1¬Ĺ teaspoons baking powder
¬Ĺ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon allspice
¬Ĺ black pepper
¬Ĺ teaspoon sea salt
6 dried prunes
1 large carrot
1/2 green apple
2 very ripe bananas
2/3 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
zest of 1 orange
1/3 cup olive or melted coconut oil
3 eggs

coconut sugar (though any sugar will do)
sunflower seeds or pepitas

Preheat the oven to 400¬ļ F and grease a muffin tin. Place the oats in a food processor and grind into a¬†course flour. In a large bowl, whisk the oat flour with the rest of the dry ingredients and set aside.

Place the prunes in a bowl of very hot water and set aside. Grate the carrot and apple and set aside.

In a bowl, mash the bananas, then mix in buttermilk or yogurt, orange zest and oil. Blend the prunes into a paste in the food processor, then blend into the banana mixture. Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients, then fold in the carrot and apple. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and beat for about a minute, then fold into the batter.

Scoop into the prepped muffin tin, then top with a sprinkling of coconut sugar and sunflower seeds. Bake 18-20 minutes.

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Breakfasts, Desserts, Snacks

Olive Oil Tortas


Summer is coming.

I can tell from this new light¬†streaming through the window in the back room where I’m currently typing, blinding me in a way that is mostly uncomfortable, but also encouraging of the changing seasons.

Everyone around me can feel it too: The streets around the farmer’s market yesterday were more crowded, the lines outside the brunch spots longer. The cat does nothing but stare out the plate glass front door. It makes me feel like I should start eating every meal outside, even if it is still possibly a little to chilly for that.

As someone who marks time by thinking of past years, I can’t help but think back to the last time I saw this kind of weather. Back at school, in such a different state of mind and daily routine. I was so much better at exercising, at eating vegetables. Really good at¬†drinking at least one beer a day, too. There was no daily commute, unless you count the seven minute walk¬†to the theatre building. My world is so much bigger now, even though it feels matchbox-tiny.

I’m going to run now, even though I’m rusty. Old-spending-every-winter-weekend-couch-lounging habits die hard, I guess?

In the meantime, you can pour yourself a cup of coffee and head over to Tasting Table and read this thing I¬†wrote. And to Food52 to read this thing, too. You’ll also find a pretty rad recipe for Olive Oil Tortas!

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Book Review, Desserts

Coconut Orange Cookies

The Whole Coconut Cookbook is a collection of fresh gluten- and dairy-free recipes starring that famous fibrous drupe, the coconut. Nathalie Fraise‘s collection of recipes explores every meal (plus snacks and dessert) injecting each recipe with every iteration of coconut. Some recipes are now-classics you can’t seem to open a brunch menu without, (chia pudding, grain-free granola, nut butters galore) the recipes for which taste good, but weren’t especially stimulating. Others, upon my recitation of their titles aloud, elicited reactions along the lines of “wait, what?” (banana cauliflower Farina.) However, the majority of Fraise’s recipes are new ideas I can’t wait to make¬†and eat (green onion patties with spicy peanut sauce, coconut sesame noodles with bok choy and tamarind dressing. cheesy paprika popcorn, vanilla rosemary cr√®me br√Ľl√©e helllllo.)

According to the introduction, Fraise grew up in Madagascar. Her regular experience with coconuts involved trucks toting the fruit into the town where she lived, and others (when traveling near the coast,) involved buying them directly from children who’d plucked them from their own trees. It’s safe to assume Fraise knows what she’s talking about. And if you doubt her, just check out the back of the book where she lists pages of resources, recommended brands, and texts she consulted in order to make this collection of recipes¬†so successful. I found all necessary ingredients at Whole Foods.

Before you get cooking from this book, here’s a list of coconut-based items you’re going to need:
– coconut oil
– coconut butter¬†(which is different from coconut oil; it’s simply coconut meat that’s processed into a thick butter)
– a few cans of coconut milk
– coconut flour
– coconut palm sugar
Рcoconut nectar (thick syrup, technically the raw liquid sap of the coconut blossom)
*Pick up a copy of the book for more useful ingredients and descriptions*

I chose to make Fraise’s¬†coconut orange cookies, which were essentially an almond flour-riff on macaroons. Chewy, moist, and just salty enough for a dessert, plus topped with toasty sesame seeds, these little cookies were a wildly pleasant surprise. They also go very well with white wine, just saying. I think the next time I make them, I may bump up the sesame factor by adding a good dollop of tahini to the batter. If you’re looking for a way to jazz up your dessert table this Passover, I’d highly recommend taking these cookies for a test drive. They’re thickened with arrowroot starch instead of cornstarch, and the combination of coconut and almond flours + alternative coconut-based sugars make for a pretty¬†complex flavor. Check out these articles if you’re nervous about Passover recipes that include baking powder.

Cookies (from The Whole Coconut Cookbook, makes about 2 dozen cookies)

2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar
1 tablespoon arrowroot starch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut butter
1/3 cup coconut nectar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest of 1 large orange
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Preheat oven to¬†350¬ļ F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, shredded coconut, coconut flour, coconut palm sugar, arrowroot, baking soda, and salt.

Combine coconut oil and coconut butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Melt gently, then whisk in the coconut nectar, vanilla, and orange zest. Pour into flour mixture and combine.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough (I used my trusty cookie scoop, rolled the cookies into balls with my hands, then flattened them very slightly). Place on the prepared baking sheets, separated by a couple of inches. Do not overcrowd, as they spread while cooking. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (or better yet, roll the whole top of the cookie in seeds). Bake in the middle rack of the oven, until golden brown on top, 7-9 minutes. Make sure the bottoms do not burn.

Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack, and allow to cool completely. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days.

NOTE: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. Check out this review on their website too!

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Main Dishes, Sides, Snacks

Shaved Carrot and Brussels Sprout Salad

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Last week I participated in a Snapchat takeover for feedfeed, a really rad site that acts as a platform for bloggers, chefs, home cooks, and “foodies” alike interested in being a part of a community to share recipes and food photos! The theme of the week was salad, so I made my favorite desk lunch: a shaved carrot‚Äďdare I say, carrot “noodle”‚Äďand Brussels sprout salad with crispycrunchyroasty chickpeas.

I used to make this salad at least thrice a week, if not more, in¬†my apartment last year, which now that I think of it seems like a hundred million years ago. It made the perfect 5pm meal-ish snack before going out for beers and truffle fries and duck nachos at 7 (and pickles and greyhounds at 11.) And better yet, if I remembered to make a large enough batch, I’d pack up the leftovers and take them for lunch the next day. After that overnight soak, the¬†dressing seeps further into the carrots, which you might think sounds gross, but I assure you it is not. It tastes great at room temperature too, so if you’re in a work situation where you either don’t have access to a fridge or are a new employee and too timid to use the team fridge (aheh) you’ll be all set. Watch my snap story below, then check out the recipe below that! And check out the feeds I edit on feedfeed too: Meatless Monday and Overnight Oats.

Shaved Carrot and Brussels Sprout Salad with Tahini-Miso Dressing and Crispy Chickpeas (serves 1-2, depending on how hungry)

5 carrots
~6 Brussels sprouts
1 scallion
1 can (13-15 oz.) chickpeas
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon well-stirred tahini
1 tablespoon white miso paste
1 teaspoon lemon juice (you may want more)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
pinch/few grinds red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425¬ļ F. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, then use a dishtowel to dry them thoroughly. Spread them out onto a baking sheet and coat with sesame oil. Sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste. Bake ¬†10-15 minutes, until crispy. If you hear them starting to pop in the oven before the time is up, cover the sheet lightly with foil. When they’re done, let them cool to room temperature on the baking sheet.

Slice the carrots into strands using a vegetable peeler and thinly slice the Brussels sprouts. Toss together in a large bowl.

To make the dressing, whisk together oil, tahini, miso, lemon juice, thyme, red pepper, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust according to your preferences! Toss the dressing with the carrots and Brussels sprouts. If you’re not expecting to finish the whole batch, transfer the amount you’ll be eating to a bowl. Add a few handfuls of chickpeas. Thinly slice the scallion and sprinkle on top. Devour!

Store remaining salad and chickpeas in separate airtight containers for about 2 days. Brighten with more lemon juice and cracked pepper.

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Main Dishes

recipes I’ve shared elsewhere

Who else is *thrilled* with this Daylight Saving thing? Yes, seriously. I love it. Obviously the whole getting up in the dark thing (without being able to just sit with a cup of coffee and watch the sky fill with light) is mostly terrible. But I can’t express how happy I am to get off the train at 7pm and not have it look like the middle of the night. As much fun as it is to watch the day begin, happen, and disappear from the windows of the office‚Äďor¬†NJ Transit, it’s more more preferable to feel like I actually have some semblance of a day post-work.

Speaking of which, I have a new gig, and there are a lot of snacks. And by a lot, I mean on Thursday we tasted five¬†grilled cheese sandwiches. FIVE. Speaking of snacks, I’ve shared some recipes on the internet recently, and you should probably check them out…and maybe even make some yourself!

Sweet Potato Tater Tots

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How to Make Homemade Cocktail Bitters + Low-Intensity Bitters Cocktail

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Matcha Hi-Hat Cupcakes

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Banana-Oat Blender Pancakes

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Quinoatmeal with Honey-Roasted Oranges

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Desserts, Musing

Orange Rosewater Madelines

“And soon, mechanically, dispirited after a dreary day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I sensed that it was connected with the taste of the tea and the cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, could, no, indeed, be of the same nature.”
‚ÄďMarcel Proust,¬†Swann’s Way

The Proustian madeleine may be a clich√© to the literati, but there is no doubt about it: food evokes feeling. One bite of tea cake is all it takes to make the back of one’s jaw tingle. Flavors¬†passing over my¬†tongue¬†can shoot me into another time, another country. Keep your eyes closed the next time you eat something you like and you’ll see.

It’s Valentine’s Day, so I’m going to talk about something I love: Food. Who’s surprised?

Food brings me joy. Making it. Serving it. Eating it. Food brings me discomfort. Buying it. Eating it.

For the past eight years¬†my relationship with food has been dysfunctional. Compulsive. For the past eight years I haven’t eaten a meal without some form of guilt or rationalization. It bothers the people around me. It makes some people nervous, even¬†irritates some of them.

“I know you’re sad, but you can’t have yogurt for every meal.”

“How could you possibly have room for more French fries?”

“Just have a bagel. What’s the problem with that?”

“You looked really thin the last time I saw you, but you looked healthier in that picture posted of you last week.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t talk so much about what you going to eat, just eat it or don’t.”

“Just go to the gym if you care so much about this.”

Every one of this things was said to me probably out of the goodness in people’s hearts, or out of confusion. But each comment stings in a way only those who also have a complicated relationship with food could possibly understand.

There have only been a few times where people have vocalized their worry about¬†my relationship with food. Typically, it goes unnoticed, because my body doesn’t physically change all that much. If I eat a lot of meals with someone they probably notice the weird portioning¬†and the food journal¬†app on my phone. Or they’ll notice that I’m on my third bowl of pasta and headed to the kitchen¬†to “clean up,” only to see I’m fishing out strands of spaghetti with my fingers, quickly, quietly.

I talk about food a lot, to be fair. It consumes most of my brain space, and therefore is a topic that controls¬†a lot of the conversations I have. And if I’m around someone regularly, they can see that it might not only be recipes I’m concerned with. But it’s hard to talk about with someone who doesn’t share this experience. Someone who has a more logical (or rational, or dare I say healthy‚Äď even though I hate that word)¬†relationship with food might be confused about why, if I’m so concerned, I can’t just implement a regular workout routine. Or why I can’t just say fuck it and eat what I want to eat. In fact, I do both of these things sometimes. More often than it would seem. But that doesn’t change the way I let these habits control me.

I spent a lot of time debating whether or not to post this. And I think a day focused around love is a good day to do so. I love to eat. I love to cook. I love working with food and recipes‚Äď professionally and personally.

Yet I don’t love what my brain has done to my relationship with food; it makes things tricky.¬†I think sharing a meal with someone is is one of the most intimate activities.¬†But there are complexities beyond my control at play here. It’s hard. I go through good spells and not-so-good ones.

But nothing ever makes me feel more than food. That “exquisite pleasure,” which causes nothing else to matter. I won’t ever let go of that.

Orange Rosewater Madelines (makes about 24 cookies)

1 or 2 madeline tins

3/4 cup +  1 tablespoon AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch sea salt (or orange salt)
2 teaspoons orange zest
3 eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup cane sugar
1 tablespoon rose water
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick)+ 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

Melt the butter in a small saucepan, pouring 2 tablespoons into a separate bowl. Stir orange zest into larger amount of butter, and cool to room temperature. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar until thick and light in color, about 4 minutes. Quickly beat in rose water and vanilla extract. Sift half of the flour mixture into the egg mixture and fold until barely combined. Repeat with the other half of the flour mixture. Gently fold in the orange butter until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375¬ļ F. Brush a madeleine tin with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter and dust lightly with flour.

When madeleines have chilled, quickly spoon batter into tins. Bake until cookies are golden brown and spring back to the touch, about 8-12 minutes. Let cookies cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then let cool completely on wire wracks.

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Main Dishes

Roasted Beet Ravioli

I think one of the best things about my job is that I actually get to develop and publish my own recipes. I published my first last week!

If you still have yet to try wonton wrapper ravioli, you are¬†missing out.¬†It’s ridiculous how easy this is. And it tastes pretty exactly like regular pasta. With the big v-day coming up, I figured it’s about time to share a pasta recipe with a filling that is roughly the color of a beating heart, possibly a little pinker, but you can deal, right? Unlike the rest of the blogosphere, I have yet to succumb to dyeing everything blood-red. But I have started buying too many chocolate bars at the grocery store, so let’s call that properly getting into the holiday spirit!

As I was developing this recipe, I tried to remember if I ever actually made a ~Valentine’s Day meal~ for a significant other, and came to the realization that I don’t think I have. I’ve made birthday dinners and hey-my-parents-are-out-of-town dinners and Friday night dinners and possibly anniversary dinners, but never have I ever (that I can recall) cooked for my Valentine on Valentine’s Day. Odd, considering how often I cook. Less odd, considering I was kitchen-less and at college for the last four years, plus I didn’t have a Valentine for a couple of those years. I’m not even sure if I’ll be cooking this February 14 either. But you should! If you have a significant other or a spouse or a Netflix-buddy or just a lot of hungry friends, this is the meal you should make, for Valentine’s Day ¬†or any other time you feel like cooking but not necessarily like turning your kitchen into a disaster-zone.

The roasted beet filling is very easy to make, (even a few days ahead of time) as are the ravioli themselves. They also freeze well if you don’t have time to cook before dinner.

Head over to POPSUGAR Food for the recipe!

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