I Didn’t Share

Of all the things I gained during my pregnancy – I mean besides 65 lbs. – the strangest of all was an appreciation for Thai food. Most people like Thai food, at least in my circles, but I have never cared for it. I tried to like it, really I did, but the flavors never meshed for me. Something about the sweet and salty, and the spice – especially the spice – didn’t work for me. Love Vietnamese food, but Thai food, not so much. But then I became pregnant, and it was as if a switch was flipped.

Chopsticks

My enjoyment of Thai food became so strong that this year I used a birthday Barnes and Noble gift card to buy Pok Pok by Andy Ricker. Ricker spent years in Thailand learning the cuisine and now has a burgeoning Thai restaurant empire in Portland, Oregon, and New York. He won the James Beard Award Best Chef in the Northwest in 2011. This guy knows his Thai.

So when a handful of kind-of-sad-looking Japanese eggplant came in the CSA a few weeks back, I grabbed Ricker’s cookbook and set out to make grilled eggplant salad. Although the recipe strongly suggested a charcoal grill, I used my oven’s broiler to blacken them. As I assembled the salad, I remembered that my friend Caitlyn, also living in Portland, also a Thai-o-phile, taught me all about this salad when she visited last summer. She even went so far as to find a video of some famous Thai chef making this recipe. “Just skip the step with the shrimp,” she said to me. So I did. And so can you.

A few things about this recipe: Apparently there are dozens of types of eggplants out there, and Caitlyn taught me that small green eggplants are traditionally used in this recipe. That wasn’t an option in my CSA, but the recipe turned out fine. I skipped the fried garlic, only because it called for using thirty cloves and, well, I didn’t have that many in my kitchen. I used the option of red onions rather than shallots because that, along with the chiles and cilantro, came in the CSA. I’m still a wimp about a ton of spice, so even though the recipe calls for 2 chiles, I think I used half of one. I had palm sugar in the house because I found a bag of it in the Gourmet Foods section at TJ Maxx, or maybe it was Home Goods. (One of those two; definitely check out that section if you have the chance. That’s where I’ve found whole vanilla beans for a buck or two.) If you don’t have palm sugar in the house, I think brown sugar will be a decent substitute. I broiled the eggplant one day but only had a chance to make the rest of the salad the following day. I simply heated the pieces of eggplant in a skillet on the stovetop.

I loved this salad. Not sure how many it is supposed to serve, but it served me, and me alone. Rich didn’t even know this salad existed until he edited this post.

Yam Makheua Yao (Grilled Eggplant Salad) from Pok Pok by Andy Ricker

Ingredients

12 ounces long Asian eggplants (2 or 3), preferably green

1 egg, at room temperature

1 ½ Tablespoons lime juice

1 ½ Tablespoons Naam Cheuam Naam Taan Piip (Palm sugar simple syrup – recipe to follow)

1 Tablespoon Thai fish sauce

2 grams fresh Thai chiles, preferably green, thinly sliced (or to taste)

14 grams peeled small shallots, preferably Asian, or very small red onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced with the grain (about 2 Tablespoons)

2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro (thin stems and leaves), lightly packed

Directions

Clean, peel and cut the eggplants

Cook the eggplants either on the grill (highly recommended) or in the oven.

  • On the grill: Prepare a charcoal grill and ignite the coals. Once the coals have begun to turn gray but are still flaming, grill the eggplants directly on the coals, turning frequently, until the skin has almost completely blackened and the flesh is very soft (it should meet with almost no resistance when you poke it with a sharp knife), about 4 minutes. The goal is to fully char the skin before the flesh gets mushy.
  • In the Oven: Preheat the boiler to high and position a rack as close as you can to the heat source. Put the eggplants on a baking tray lined with aluminum foil (or, even better, on a wire rack on the baking tray) and broil, turning them over once, until the skin has blistered and mostly blackened and the flesh is very soft (it should meet with almost no resistance when you poke it with a sharp knife) but not mushy, about 6 to 12 minutes total, depending on the size of the eggplants and the distance from the heat source.

Let the eggplants cool for 10 minutes or so. This will make them easier to peel and allow the flesh to firm up slightly. Use your fingers to peel off the skin (don’t go crazy removing every last bit), trying your best to keep the flesh intact. Do not run the eggplant under water. Cut the eggplant crosswise (on the diagonal, if you’re feeling fancy) into 2-inch slices and arrange them on a serving plate.

Cook the Egg: Prepare a bowl of ice water. Bring a small pot of water to a full boil, gently add the whole egg, and cook for 10 minutes. Your goal is a fully cooked egg whose yolk hasn’t become dry and powdery. Transfer the egg to the ice water and once the egg is cool to the touch, peel and coarsely chop the white and yolk into small pieces.

Assemble the Salad: Combine the lime juice, simple syrup, fish sauce, and chiles in a small saucepan or wok, set it over medium heat, and heat the mixture just until it’s warm to the touch, 15 seconds or so. Pour the warm mixture over the eggplant. Sprinkle on the egg, shallot, and finally, cilantro.

Naam Cheuam Naam Taan Piip – Palm Sugar Simple Syrup

Ingredients

2 ½ ounces palm sugar, coarsely chopped

¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon water

Directions

Combine the sugar and the water in a very small pot or pan. Set it over medium heat and cook, stirring and breaking up the sugar as it softens, just until the sugar has completely dissolved. If the water begins to bubble before the sugar has completely dissolved, turn off the heat and let it finish dissolving in the hot liquid.

Let it cool before storing. The syrup keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

 

As Tends To Happen

in the trees

My office is close enough to the Watertown Free Public Library that I can spend my lunch break there and know I can make it back to my desk with time to spare. It’s a great library – full of sunlight and helpful librarians. The children’s department looks massive and I keep on meaning to take Lilli there on the off chance we get to spend the day together. Best of all, it’s part of the Minuteman Library system, a consortium of more than 30 local towns’ libraries. So if for some reason the Boston Public Library – a place that a librarian friend calls a library “on steroids” – doesn’t have what I’m looking for, I have 30 more chances that the book, or movie, or album, can be found.

This past summer I went in search of travel books to Montreal. I remembered that Watertown’s collection was more up-to-date than the BPL’s when I planned our trip to Europe a few years ago. And as tends to happen, I found myself in the cookbook section where I was excited to find The Mile End cookbook, the cookbook of the deli in Brooklyn founded by Montrealers who missed their hometown’s smoked meat.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, the cookbook also featured a walking map of their favorite food joints in the Mile End. And this was on top of a book devoted to smoked and pickled things, two of my favorite ways of preparing foods. I bookmarked and Xeroxed recipes that piqued my interest. There’s an olive oil cake recipe I plan on baking for Chanukah, but first up is this honey cake.

picking

This honey cake is divine. It’s moist. It’s warm and spiced up because it is by their parents’ old neighbor, baker extraordinaire Marcy Goldman, who based it on a gingerbread recipe. It calls for a cup of honey, which sounds like a lot, but the bear on my counter still has honey in his belly. I only had dark brown sugar in the house, which gives it an extra nice molasses feel.

The first step is something I’ve never done before, which is combine orange juice and honey in a saucepan then add baking soda to it. It fizzles and bubbles like a fourth grader’s volcano, and it gets set aside. I actually baked this cake in a number of steps, in between dinner, bath time and post-bedtime, so I can confidently say it’s OK if you set aside the saucepan for an hour to tend to something. This recipe is machine-free, just calling for some whisking and stirring. Place your eggs in a bowl of warm water if you forget to take them out ahead of time.

bent

Two caveats with this recipe: I’ve baked it twice and can report that the bake times the recipe calls for need to be just about doubled, at least with my oven. Also, I’ve oiled and floured the Bundt pan very well, but this cake does not flop out when flipped. Just cut out the pieces to serve. It still tastes delicious.

Best wishes for a sweet and happy new year. L’Shana Tova Umetukah!

Honey Cake from the Mile End Cookbook: Redefining Jewish Comfort Food from Hash to Hamentaschen by Noah Bernamoff and Rae Bernamoff

Ingredients

1 cup orange juice

1 cup honey, plus more for drizzling

½ teaspoon baking soda

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup (packed) brown sugar

1 cup sugar

¾ cup canola oil

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoons ground cloves

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Toasted almonds (optional)

Powdered sugar (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F. Combine the orange juice and honey in a large saucepan. Place it over medium-low heat, bring it to a simmer, and simmer until the liquids have come together and you can no longer feel any honey sticking to the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the baking soda; stir to combine, then set the pan aside.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs and sugars and whisk vigorously until smooth. Then add the oil and whisk until the mixture is completely emulsified and smooth. Pour the reserved orange juice mixture into the egg mixture and whisk for a few seconds to combine.

In another large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt; mix together with a spatula. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk, scraping down the sides with a spatula, until any lumps are eliminated, 10 to 15 seconds.

Grease a Bundt pan with oil or cooking spray and dust the pan liberally with flour, tapping out any excess. Pour the batter into the pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven until the surface starts turning a golden brown about 15 minutes. (Or longer, depending on how badly your oven needs to be recalibrated.) Rotate the pan 180 degrees and tent it lightly with aluminum foil. Continue baking until a thermometer inserted reads 200F and a knife comes clean. Another 20 to 25 minutes. (Or more, depending on how badly your oven needs to be recalibrated.) Cool the cake completely on a wire rack. Invert it onto a serving plate and drizzle it with honey. Top with toasted almonds and powdered sugar, if you like.

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll Thank Me

I was so busy kvetching about my CSA last week that I forgot to tell you about our summer vacation. We drove to Montreal. To eat. The trip was inspired by Save the Deli, by David Sax. It’s a book about the slow death of the Jewish deli, and Sax devotes an entire chapter on eating in Montreal. I was sold. So when Lilli’s caretaker had her vacation, we took ours up north.

maison publique

It wasn’t the first time we’d been to Canada – Rich and I actually spent our honeymoon in Halifax. This time we stayed in a lovely AirBnB in Le Petite Laurier, a neighborhood most easily described as Park Slope-esque. I had actually done a bit of research before our trip – more than just reading Eater – and it turns out Montreal is very child-friendly. There’s the Biodome, and there are lots of playgrounds and splash parks, although they could use a little help in the stroller accessibility department. I’m now very impressed with the People with Disabilities Act in our country. Rich was impressed with the hundreds of cyclists that rolled by us every day on cycle tracks and bike boulevards.

mushrooms

And we ate. We ate everything: St. Viateur bagels, smoked meat at Schwartz’s (do the takeout window), poutine at La Banquise. Our first night in town we had an extraordinary meal at small, hip neighborhood place. Even Lilli enjoyed the tomato leaf papardelle with veal ragu. It turned out the place, Maison Publique, is one of the best new restaurants in all of Montreal – the chef was trained by Jamie Oliver. I went back on my own the last night we were in town to try a few other things on the menu, like green beans with anchovies and chile, and the sockeye salmon with peas and chanterelles.

berries

Like we do on all my vacations, we visited the public markets. Our first official day there we met up with friends in Little Italy, and they took us over to Jean-Talon, one of the largest outdoor covered markets in all of North America. I bought a basket of ground cherries as I roamed the stalls, snapping photos of the mushrooms and berries for sale. I enjoyed a balsamic macaron as I drooled over the hundreds of unpasteurized cheeses available, contraband back home. We walked about 10 miles that first day, down from Little Italy into the Mile End and Le Plateau.

peppers

Following our trip up North we drove down to Western Mass for a family bar mitzvah. That Saturday night my parents were kind enough to watch Lilli while Rich and I had a date in Northampton. We went to a new favorite of ours, The Dirty Truth, and ended the night at The Haymarket Café. Haymarket was founded when I was in high school in the 1990s as a bit of an anarchist’s bookstore and coffee shop. You had to go through the back parking lot, behind Main Street. Today Haymarket has a front door, as well as a second floor, and it serves dinner and dessert as well. I distracted myself from feeling very, very old by sharing a piece of lavender blueberry pie and this salted chocolate rye cookie.

I recognized the cookie as soon as I read the sign. It’s from Tartine Book No. 3, a cookbook which came out last year. (It was actually delayed three times; I know this because Sara is a Tartine junkie and was beside herself with every delay.) I had a version of it from Tasting Table in my recipe folder in my email. The cookie is extraordinary, definitely worth going out and buying rye flour at Whole Foods for it. Rich thinks they have a bit of spice to them, like a rye ale, while Mike said they were veering into brownie territory. I’ll tell you that they are a baked cookie with a center that remains soft on the inside. I brought some of these cookies along when Lilli, Rich and I joined Cara, Rosie and Ben for berry picking. Of course, I failed at packing an actual lunch for Lilli, but we did have these amazing cookies.

berry picking

The recipe calls for 1 pound chopped bittersweet chocolate (70%), preferably Valrhona, making it both a chocolatey and expensive dessert. Given the amount of chocolate I needed, I went to Target and bought several bags of Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips. They worked fine. The four eggs need to be at room temperature, but if you can’t wait, set them in a bowl of warm water. The dough does need some chilling to make it firm enough to scoop. I set the dough back in the fridge in between batches.

The one real change I made to the recipe was changing the muscavado sugar into dark brown sugar, making it a bit more affordable. The recipe says to bake them for between 8 and 10 minutes; in my oven it took 10 minutes to 13 minutes. This is a very good cookie. Please go make it. You’ll thank me.

Salted Chocolate-Rye Cookies Adapted from Tartine Book No. 3: A Modern Ancient Classic Whole

Ingredients

2 2/3 cups (1 pound) chopped bittersweet chocolate or (good quality chocolate chips)

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

¾ cup whole-grain dark rye flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon fine salt

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 ½ cups dark brown sugar

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Good quality flaky sea salt, such as Maldon or fleur de sel, for topping

Directions

Place a saucepan filled with 1 inch of water over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Set a heatproof bowl over the simmering water, taking care that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water, and melt the chocolate and butter together, stirring occasionally. Once melted remove from heat and let cool slightly.

In a small bowl, whisk together the rye flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

Place the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed, adding the sugar a little bit at a time, until all the sugar is incorporated. Turn the mixer to high and whip until the eggs have nearly tripled in volume, about 6 minutes.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the melted chocolate-butter mixture and the vanilla. Mix to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, then add in the flour mixture just until combined. At this point the dough will be very soft and loose, which is normal; it will firm up as it chills.

Refrigerate the dough until it is just firm to the touch, about 30 minutes, (The longer you chill the dough it’s harder to scoop.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the fridge and scoop with a rounded tablespoon onto the baking sheets, shaping the balls of dough into rounds and spacing them 2 inches apart. Top each mound of dough with a few flakes of sea salt, pressing gently so it adheres.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the cookies have completely puffed up and have a smooth bottom and rounded top. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let cool slightly (the cookies may flatten a bit), then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. The cookies will keep up to 3 days in an airtight container, although we moved ours into the fridge at that point and enjoyed them over a week.

Do Yourself A Favor

I’ll be frank: I’ve been very disappointed with this summer’s CSA. We used a different farm this year because my new job meant saying goodbye to the Thursday boxes from Ward’s Berry Farm. I had thought my blogging would continue at its normal pace and even spent the past year stockpiling zucchini recipes in anticipation of the summer deluge. As it turned out, our share had four of the fruits the entire summer. And don’t even get me started on the lack of corn.

Eetch

The saving grace of our summer table was the fact that I was a harvester for the horticulture program at my new job at Perkins. With the students away, a few of us year-round staff volunteered to make sure the plants were tended to. This meant I spent every other lunch break picking what was ripe, which translated into pounds of cherry tomatoes, piles of cucumbers and mounds of fresh basil. And that’s basically what we ate all summer long.

Armenian food has also become a regular feature of my lunches this summer. Perkins is in Watertown, which has one of the oldest and largest Armenian communities in all of North America. (Thankfully, it seems to be a Kardashian-free zone.) I’d poke around the shops on my lunch break, refreshing my stash of Aleppo pepper and sampling the different salads. There was one salad in particular that I kept on going back to, called eetch. It took me a few weeks to figure out that what I was enjoying so much was bulgur, or cracked dried wheat.

Lilli in August 2

Smell ya’ later, paleo, I’ve got a new grain in town, and it’s full of gluten. In fact, it is gluten. And it’s great! I went to Whole Foods last month in search of bulgur, and the fellow I asked for help lit up when I requested it. It was like I had spoken the secret password to him and he was able to share how great wheat is. If you don’t have celiac and aren’t gluten intolerant, like my poor Italian co-worker, do yourself a favor and go eat some bulgur. It’s cheap, it’s filling, and it’s incredibly delicious.

This recipe is an original of mine. I started poking around online and read a whole bunch of eetch recipes. It turns out it’s sometimes called a tomato tabouli, a set-it-and-forget-it recipe. Most recipes called for an onion and a fresh green pepper, both of which have become regular features in my lackluster CSA.

The result is so good. It’s vegan, it makes a lot and travels well, so get out your Tupperware and go to town.

Eetch –Armenian Tomato Bulgur Salad

1 medium onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 Tablespoon tomato paste (Save the rest of it in a baggie and toss it into the freezer.)

½ cup olive oil

1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce

8 oz. can of water (just fill the tomato sauce can)

1 ½ cups bulgur

Directions

In a large saucepan, cook the tomato paste, chopped pepper and onion with a very hefty pinch of kosher salt in the olive oil over a medium heat. Cook this down for about a half hour.

When everything has softened, add the can of tomato sauce and the can of water. Bring to a boil. When the mixture is boiling, add the bulgur. Mix everything together until everything is incorporated. Turn off heat and let sit, covered, for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes the bulgur should have absorbed all the liquid and filled the entire pot.

Fluff with a fork then dig in.

Game Changer

Oh goodness. Where to begin? Well, first off, I shouldn’t be writing this right now. What I should be doing while Lilli takes her nap is tidy up the house. Or maybe crowd source the name of a cleaning lady. The house looks like an 18-month-old lives here…on her own. My friend Sara called Lilli the “tiny tornado” a few months back, and the local children’s librarian referred to her as a “little tornado” just last night.

soft serve

So the house is beyond a disaster, and no, I will not post any photos of that. Like I said, I should be cleaning the house right now, but instead I’m going to tell you about vegan ice cream sandwiches.

Before I go any further, Rich wants me to make it clear that he did not have any of the vegan ice cream sandwiches. When the book Vegan Ice Cream Sandwiches by Kris Holechek Peters arrived in the mail I was excited at the prospect of a delicious and creative summertime dairy-free dessert. And Rich? Well, he made a face and declared, quite forcefully, I might add, something he has said for years: “Dairy-free ice cream is an abomination against nature.” I’ve learned to pick my battles, so I let this one slide.

When the book arrived I did what I always do with an unfamiliar cookbook – curled up into a corner on the couch and read through it. Sure, the book has the standard vanilla ice cream with chocolate cookie sandwiches, which I choose as my first recipe. But it also has Crisp Cinnamon Cookies with Chai Ice Cream, Chewy Chocolate Cookies with Mint Nut Ice Cream, and a peanut butter cup flavor, which includes a recipe for the peanut butter cups so you don’t have to run around town trying to find vegan peanut butter cups. I’m looking forward to corn in the CSA because I’ve bookmarked the Sweet Corn Ice Cream that’s been paired with Rhubarb Cookies. (The author labeled them “Mouthful O’ Midwest Sandwiches”.)

The most pleasant surprise about making this dessert was the fact that I found everything, save the soy milk and Earth Balance, at Ocean State Job Lot. (The other two ingredients were purchased at Whole Foods.) Yup, the sugar cane sugar and tapioca starch (sometime referred to as tapioca flour) were both found in the extensive Bob’s Red Mill section at the store. Now, I don’t see any reason why you can’t use regular white granulated sugar, but with baking I try to stick to the recipe before I futz with it. OSJL has a great price on all of Bob’s flours and grains, so if you’re anywhere near one, my advice is to stock up. (If you’re afraid of little creepy crawling things getting into your grains and flours, which has happened in my own pantry, I’d suggest purchasing a package of Ball Jars, conveniently on sale this month, perhaps for the summer jam and preserves crowd.)

As with any ice cream recipe, make sure to have your charger in the freezer overnight. These particular cookies are a slab cookie, although there are drop cookies galore in the book. You’ll notice the recipe has you make the sandwiches, then wrap them in plastic wrap and pop them back in the freezer for a half hour to bind them. It also suggests having the ice cream sit out for a half hour. I guess that’s typical for soy-based ice creams, although the ice cream was ready to scoop after only a few minutes out on the counter.

3 scoops

And the result? Well, at first taste the soy ice cream tasted like Tofutti, but that soy flavor diminished after a few days. The cookies were, legit, delicious — so delicious that Rich ended up eating ALL OF THE COOKIES, except for two. (He swears he thought I’d already assembled the sandwiches and the cookies were left overs.) That means I only had one ice cream sandwich when all was said and done. That’s right, he refused to eat the ice cream sandwiches, but then went and ate all the cookies. I take that as a good sign.

This ice cream sandwich was WAY BETTER than a Tofutti Cutie. For those of you out there that are looking for a Saturday lunchtime dessert that’s dairy free and delicious, this is a game changer.

Classic Ice Cream Sandwiches from Vegan Ice Cream Sandwiches by Kris Holechek Peters

Classic Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients

1/3 cup nondairy margarine, at room temperature

2/3 cup evaporated can sugar

2 Tablespoons nondairy milk

¼ teaspoon mild vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa, sifted

½ teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar. Stir in the milk, vinegar, and vanilla. In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix thoroughly.
  3. Turn out onto the prepared baking sheet. Place a sheet of waxed paper over the dough and roll out onto a square about ¼ inch thick. Remove the waxed paper and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are set and it’s slightly puffy. It will seem soft and not fully baked, but it is.
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 15 minutes on the baking sheet on a wire rack. Carefully cut the cookies into the desired shape. You can use a glass or biscuit cutter to make them round, or maximize the dough by cutting them into evenly sized squares.
  5. Remove the cookies from the sheet and allow to finish cooling on the rack.

Vanilla Soy Ice Cream

Makes 1 ¼ quarts

Ingredients

3/4 cup evaporated cane sugar

1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons tapioca starch

2 ½ cup soy or hemp milk (full fat)

1 teaspoon coconut oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and tapioca starch and whisk until incorporated. Pour in the milk, whisking to incorporate. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently. Once it reaches a boil, lower the heat to medium-low and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the coconut oil and vanilla, and mix to combine.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a heat-resistant bowl and let cool completely.
  3. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a 1 ½ or 2-quart ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for at least 2 hours before assembling the sandwiches.

To Make the Sandwiches

Let the ice cream soften slightly so it’s easy to scoop. Place half of the cookies, bottoms up, on a clean surface. Scoop one generous scoop of ice cream, about 1/3 cup, onto the top of each cookie. Top the ice cream with the remaining cookies, with the cookie bottoms touching the ice cream. Gently press down on the cookies to level them. Wrap each sandwich in plastic wrap or waxed paper and return to the freezer for at least 30 minutes before serving.

 

A Summer Salad

Last week, after years of careful deliberation, I announced to Rich that my favorite of all berries was the raspberry. The best raspberries of all were the wild ones that grew on the bushes that lined the road to our house in Western Mass. Those bushes are all gone now, replaced with houses, but when I was a little girl my sisters and I would run down the small hill to collect the berries.

For Lilli, strawberries were in the berry lead in early June, but it looks like blueberries have now surged ahead. (Earlier tonight I overheard Rich telling her that she had to eat them one at a time and to stop cramming them into her mouth all at once.) Sometimes I share my raspberries with her, and it’s clear she loves those, too.

cherry herb salad

Longtime readers of this blog would have no idea about my raspberry love, or how much I absolutely adore all summer fruits, for that matter, because I tend to do the minimal amount of preparation to them. (Plums don’t count.) Why bake something, like a peach or cherry, into a pie when it’s already a perfect dessert (or snack, or meal)?

All this changed when I saw this recipe for cherry herb salad. I read the name of the dish long before I had a chance to read the recipe, and my first guess as to what herb it would be was tarragon. It turned out to be a cup of cilantro leaves, and it works. It works well enough that I’m sharing this recipe with you and plan on making it again tomorrow night. Cherries were on crazy sale at Star Market today – I was there this morning AND this evening refilling my supply.

in the kitchen

The recipe calls for a Holland chile pepper which the regular market clearly did not have. I did a bunch of googling and, honestly, use whatever hot pepper you’d prefer. I actually didn’t use the entire pepper in this dish, as I’m a bit of a wimp about spicy things. Although the original recipe claims that the broiling of the pepper takes four minutes, I found it took closer to 10 minutes in the toaster oven, where I also toasted a half cup of walnuts. I clean my cilantro by filling a large bowl of cold water and dropping the herb into it; the sand always sinks to the bottom of the bowl. Today’s bunch of cilantro was especially gritty; I needed to change the water five times tonight. As for prepping the fruit, many years ago Rich bought me a cherry/olive pitter. Money well spent, I say. I buy my pomegranate molasses at the Armenian shops in Watertown. My bet is any Middle Eastern shop in your area would have it, too. It would be right next to the rosewater.

We ate this tonight as a side to our roasted fish and brown rice. You should, too.

Cherry & Herb Salad – This recipe was featured in a May 2013 issue of Saveur within Gabriella Gershenon’s article The Promised Land. It’s credited as a Turkish recipe, but the article is about Israel and the Galilee. I’ve been thinking a lot about Israel lately. I bet many of you reading this are thinking about it, too. 

Ingredients

Up to two red Holland chiles, or chiles of your choosing

1 lb. fresh dark pitted cherries

1 cup cilantro leaves

½ cup walnuts halves, toasted and roughly chopped

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ Tablespoons pomegranate molasses

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Instructions

Heat oven broiler (or toaster oven) to high. Place chiles on a baking sheet; broil, turning as needed, until charred and tender, 4 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of your pepper.

Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let sit five minutes. Discard stems, skin and seeds from chiles; finely chop and transfer to a bowl. (I did this step wearing rubber gloves.)

In a separate bowl whisk together the olive oil, molasses and lemon juice.

Add the cherries, cilantro and walnuts to the bowl of chopped pepper. Pour the dressing into the bowl and toss to combine. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

 

CSA Support Group

I’m here! I’m here! And, I come bearing recipes. Yes, it’s CSA time, and I know there’s a bunch of you peering into your box, wondering what to do with garlic scapes and that crazy kohlrabi. Of course, it’s still early in the season, so we’ve also been working our way through lots of lettuces and greens. For the salads, these pickled onions are working out really well.

With the cilantro that’s come, we had a dressing from one of Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbooks (I borrowed it from the library) that had me whirling the herb up with some yogurt, green garlic, also from the CSA, scallions, jalapeno and fresh lime juice. I used the rest of the cilantro tonight in this rice. Good stuff.

kohlrabi and cabbage

As for those aforementioned kohlrabi and scapes, I drew inspiration from an extraordinary meal Rich and I had at Ribelle last week to celebrate Father’s Day and his birthday. (I chose the restaurant and just asked him to trust me.) One of the dishes I had featured both kohlrabi and pickled garlic scapes. It was really terrific, and I plan on pickling the scapes in my crisper in the next day or two.

We did a separate fruit CSA this year, which was smart because Lilli basically eats her weight in strawberries daily. I was able to wrestle a few of the berries away from her and tossed those with some maple syrup and roasted them in a hot oven for about 20 minutes. Feel free to swirl those into some plain yogurt.

Strawberry

 

But the main recipe for this week is for kohlrabi. If there’s anything I’ve learned about vegetables, when in doubt, reach for Ottolenghi. Yotam has yet to let me down, and his cabbage and kohlrabi salad is no exception. The cabbage in this recipe is the boring kind that is probably growing old in your crisper. At least that’s what was happening with mine. (If you have napa cabbage, drizzle this buttermilk dressing on it and enjoy it raw.)

Rich was skeptical about a recipe that called for alfalfa sprouts like this one does, but he had thirds. Thirds! I had white pepper in the house from this hot and sour soup. I think dried cranberries will work as a substitute for the dried whole sour cherries, and will make this recipe very affordable in case you don’t have a surplus from your local Ocean State Job Lot.

It turns out a friend of mine from college also just made this, and they added fresh fennel and its fronds to their salad which sounds like a great addition. If you have it, go for it.

Cabbage and Kohlrabi Salad from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

Ingredients

1 medium or ½ large kohlrabi

½ white cabbage (8 to 9 oz)

Large bunch of dill, roughly chopped (6 heaped tablespoons)

1 cup dried whole sour cherries (or dried cranberries)

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Juice of one lemon (he actually calls for 6 Tablespoons, but whatever)

¼ cup olive oil

1 garlic clove, crushed

Salt and white pepper

2 cups alfalfa sprouts

Directions

Peel the kohlrabi and cut into thick matchsticks that are about ¼ inch wide and 2 inches long. Cut the cabbage into 1/4-in-thick strips.

Put all the ingredients, apart from the alfalfa sprouts, in a large mixing bowl. Use your hands to massage everything together for about a minute so the flavors mix and the lemon can soften the cabbage and the cherries. Let the salad sit for about 10 minutes.

Add most of the alfalfa sprouts and mix well again with your hands. Taste and adjust the seasoning; you’ll need a fair amount of salt to counteract the lemon.

Use your hands again to lift the salad out of the mixing bowl and into a serving bowl, leaving most of the juices behind. Garnish with the remaining sprouts and serve at once.