The basis for Lebanese food is fresh vegetables, olive oil, garlic, lemon and fresh herbs and spices. Rich, savory, and tangy flavors and an eye toward contrasting textures are also fundamental. Yes. It’s a vegan dream. Like many cultures, the preparing and sharing food is an act of friendship and love. If you share a meal with a stranger, that person becomes your friend. It’s an easy language to learn. I’ve never felt more welcome in a country where I didn’t speak the language, and to do this day, Lebanese is my “comfort food”: creamy fattoush with sumac and crunchy pita, maqluba, chopped salad, balila (cumin chickpeas)…
Nothing says summer like watermelon. Except for tomatoes.
Fruit juices in the US are often seen as either a kid’s drink or as a component for cocktails (cranberry g&t, I’ve got my eye on you), whereas other countries rely on fruit juice as an alternative to water — there is a fruit juice stand with all fruits in every color for each corner in Syria (or there was…) and India is also known for fruit juice vendors.
Agua fresca is a Mexican invention that also fully appreciates the cooling, refreshing power of fruit. It is a slightly sweet and super refreshing drink – perfect to cool off from the heat of the day or a spicy meal. Fortunately, aguas frescas are slowly gaining popularity in the States (Califia Farms recently released a line of aguas frescas including “Kiwi Cactus” that I’d love to try).
Jam is terrifying. It is the zombie movie of spreads. It can become undead and grow a bacterium that will kill you. I hope you are excited to make jam now.
I swear this one is not so hard, or murderous. There’s no 10 minutes of boiling Kerr jars or air-drying or anything like that – it’s a quick easy jam that makes enough for right this minute and maybe the next two weeks if you don’t get too greedy. Store in the fridge and if you have too much for you, it makes a great for-no-special-reason gift.
There is a lot of snacking that goes on in this house during the day. I said that in a passive way but really I mean that I, myself, me – I snack all day. I try to save dinner leftovers for next-day lunches but sometimes we just eat a lot. Food tastes good, yo. I could make my own lunch because I’m home most weekdays, but for all I love cooking, making breakfast, dinner, and blog-whatever is enough for me. Also, I double as the dishwasher so I try to be green and save energy (;
This is a dense, moist bread with such a tender crumb that it feels light. The tenderness is delivered without the usual greasiness of sweet breads — it gets its moisture from ripe bananas instead of relying on the large amounts of oil typically used. It is also perfectly sweet with a great texture on the top from coarse-grained sugar, and a hint of cinnamon and ginger.
This Caesar salad has replaced the much-loved Quinoa, Tempeh, and Avocado Bowl around here as our work-night go-to dinner. It’s easy, quick, super healthy, filling, and full of protein, healthy fats, and dark leafies (including a good bit of semi-hidden kale).
The croutons here are made with extra-firm tofu, but you are welcome to sub half with 1/2-inch chunks of baguette, or just eat the baguette on the side. The directions work for both, although for super crunchy croutons, start with stale bread or stick them in the toaster oven for a few minutes. Either way, it’s a perfect 1-bowl dinner.
Aakash, Nate and I drove up to Sonoma to celebrate Nate’s birthday with wine tasting and a peanut butter sandwich picnic. It was overcast and windy, very like New York this time of year. My favorite part (I drove) was buying beautiful purple heads of garlic and the sweetest fresh strawberries from a roadside stand in front of the berry fields and across the road from a vineyard.
Roasting strawberries is a great way to preserve the flavor of fresh spring strawberries for longer than two days – or to save some already sad-looking berries. Roasting them with olive oil, a bit of maple syrup, and a generous spoonful of balsamic gives these a jammy, tangy flavor that goes great with the creamy avocado and a bit of spiciness from freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
I’m celebrating spring. In the Bay this year, the only difference between “winter” and “spring” has been the local foods at the market. And it has been so warm everything is coming in and out a little early than usual: asparagus is going, gone, while strawberries are in full swing. And while my dad’s garden in central NY is still covered in a light coat of snow, I’m going to take full advantage of the ridiculous growing season in CA (come visit, Dad?).
I love shakshuka: at it’s most essential, it consists of eggs baked in tomato sauce. Sounds good, but it gets better when that tomato sauce is spicy and full-flavored, and the eggs are replaced with high-quality soft tofu and drizzled in my version of runny egg yolk: saffron cashew cream. Hey now, don’t make that face. A Japanese- or Hawaiian-style silken or soft tofu It is perfect here – light and creamy, but still slightly firm (yes, like an egg white) with a rich flavor. Soft tofu is made with higher-fat soy milk and is never pressed, giving it a light, smooth texture. Plus: tofu is lower in sodium and has more calcium than egg gram for gram, and also has zero cholesterol.