My New Favorite Fall Salad

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Sometimes there’s a salad that you like, but don’t love, and then you change a few things about it and suddenly it’s your new favorite salad. That’s what happened with this salad, a familiar combination of apples and fennel and walnuts and golden raisins and arugula. It’s one you can probably find in my archives and that recipe in my archives is good but not great. This one is great. What’s the difference?

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A Golden Salad

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Our CSA continues to be a big boon to our diet, especially on Sunday mornings when the box arrives and I get to tear it open and make something right away for breakfast or lunch or a combination of those two meals (someone should come up with a name for that). Last week’s box contained some Boston lettuce, the box from the week before had golden beets that I hadn’t used yet. So, on Sunday at 11:30 AM, a vision slowly began to hatch in my brain: what if I roasted those golden beets and, at the same time, boiled a few eggs just so the whites firmed up and the yolks were runny. I could toss the lettuce with a mustardy dressing, using Dorie Greenspan’s mustard bottle technique and bring it all together like a golden vision.

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Fun Times with Farro: Cauliflower and Cara Cara Oranges, Smoked Trout and Parmesan

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They say you’ve gotta know the rules before you break the rules and I think that’s true of cooking as much as it’s true of art or writing or any other discipline. Before you make deconstructed spaghetti and meatballs with foam and fruit leather and dehydrated beef essence, you should probably learn how to make the straightforward version. (Plus: the straightforward version is usually better.) Let’s say you’re hankering to be creative, though, and you want to flex your artistic cooking muscles. Then my advice is to master the art of blank canvas foods; the kinds of foods you can dress up however you want once you get the basic idea down. For me, that blank canvas food used to be pasta; but lately, on a California summer-is-coming health kick, I’ve been toying around with farro.

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Salad Niçoise

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I almost titled this post Salad Not-çoise because my starting point, with the recipe, was David Lebovitz’s blog post where he beautifully describes a salad–an authentic Niçoise–that is nothing like the one I ended up making. In fact, David might be horrified by the one I made, especially since he quotes Jacques Médecin, the authority on Provencal cuisine, as saying: “Never, never, I beg you, include boiled potato or any other boiled vegetable in your Salade Niçoise.” Shield your eyes, then, David and Monsieur Médecin. What you’re about to see may disturb you.

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A Healthy Farmer’s Market Buffet

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A few weeks ago, for the Golden Globes, I did something I’d never done before: I served health food to a crowd. Now when I say “health food,” I don’t mean the punishing kind that makes you weep with displeasure (tofu on a bed of undressed arugula or something like that); I mean the kind of food that actually makes you feel good, light, refreshed, well-fed but not sick. In other words, the total opposite of the kind of food I normally serve to a crowd (see: chili, lasagna, Sunday gravy, etc). How did this all come about? It started at the farmer’s market.

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Roasted Beet and Carrot Salad with Chickpeas and Goat Cheese

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Please take your computer screen–this may be tricky, if you have a laptop–and detach it from the base. Good. Now nail it to the wall with this post prominently featured because DANG, isn’t this salad that I made yesterday a work of art? I’m mighty proud of it. In fact, I’m so proud of it, maybe I don’t even want to tell you how I made it because then you may steal my thunder and tell people that YOU invented it, not me. Well, it’s not like I invented it, but you know what I mean. Ok, fine, you wore me down…here’s how this artful plate of food came into existence.

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Rice Salad with Olives and Pine Nuts

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The smartest food bloggers rave about the recipes they post in the first paragraph so you’re positively dying to click ahead and read the rest. Me? I kind of do that, but I also can’t help being a truth-teller. So yesterday, I was honest when I said that I loved the Franny’s Toasted Almond Gelato recipe I made, but I also said it tasted–just very slightly–like snot. Now I’m here to tell you about a rice salad that I made from Staffmeals (quickly becoming one of my most-used cookbooks) that I enjoyed, but not fully, mostly because of how I cooked the rice.

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Got A Fat Tush? Make Fattoush

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Sometimes recipes take you by surprise; you think they’re going to taste one way, they wind up tasting another way and you wind up liking that other way better.

With the fattoush recipe from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem, I was expecting crispy pieces of pita bread tossed with pretty typical Israeli salad vegetables (cucumbers, tomatoes, etc.), yogurt, olive oil and lemon juice. Instead, you use naan (or stale Turkish flatbread, if you can find that) and don’t toast it at all. You toss that with a yogurt mixture before making the salad and what happens next is so special, I’m not going to describe it in this paragraph. You’ll just have to click ahead (unless you came to this post directly, in which case this moment is…awkward.)

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