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Showing posts from July, 2015

Nivik: Chickpeas with Spinach

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Chickpeas and spinach may not sound like much; however it is a budget-friendly and absolutely tasty way to bring more protein and veggies into your diet. And, according to Claudia Roden (the queen bee of Middle Eastern cooking), it's a pretty ubiquitous way to do so in the Middle East. There are as many different recipes on how to combine these two ingredients as there are people willing to share them, and Tess Mallos, our cookbook's author, chose an Armenian preparation for them.

And I am so glad she did, for this is a recipe where the sum is much more than its humble parts.


Simple chickpeas. Spinach. Some tomato paste. Onions.

Really, it didn't sound all that interesting, and I wasn't particularly looking forward to making it. In fact, I waited until the husband had gone up to Fort Bragg (his mother is in town visiting, and they got to enjoy the beautiful, sunny weather on the coast this weekend and early week), so that I could make it on my own. I didn't want t…

Saffron-Spiked Ratatouille with Eggs

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The other day, the husband and I were walking through a cute little homegoods store in our neighborhood. We were shopping for a present for one of his parents, and of course we were perusing the cookware section. He stopped dead in his tracks and said, "That's a beautiful cookbook."

Of course, he was referring to Anna Jones'A Modern Way to Eat.  It wasn't the photograph  of whom I presume to be Jones digging into the Walnut and Marjoram Pesto with Radicchio on the cover. He said it was the particular font on the clean white background.

It's funny what catches your eye.


For me, it's the gorgeous photographs within the cookbook paired with the healthy recipes that made me want the book. And what a cookbook this one is! Chockful of more than 200 recipes, this cookbook wants to end your cookbook addiction, for you'll never need another vegetarian cookbook after this one (don't worry, I am still addicted. I said it wants to end my addiction; I am not …

Chicken with Plums (Tabaka Piliç)

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Friends, are you familiar with Marjane Satrapi? Of course you are, you smartypants, you.

Certainly she is most famous for her book Persepolis (which comes in two volumes) about growing up in Tehran and Vienna during the Islamic Revolution in Iran, which was made into a beautiful movie. Beyond that though, Satrapi has collaborated on two other movies, written and illustrated two children's books, and written two more comics--including her graphic novel, Chicken with Plums. What I love about Satrapi in all of her work is that she marries whimsy and sharp humor with melancholy and deadly seriousness. She is a woman who believes in true justice of an individual and personal nature, but never forgets (as she has put it in interviews) that life is too serious to take seriously.


Thus, when I saw that Claudia Roden's The New Book of Middle Eastern Foodfeatured Chicken with Plums on page 215, I was over the moon.

For, you see, I had the most amazing opportunity to interview Satrapi la…

Plum-Nectarine Chutney

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Summer is always my time to reconnect--to myself, to my home, to my family, and most certainly to my friends. A little over a week ago, I met up with a dear friend of mine (whom I have known since the very early summer of 2003); we sipped tea and nibbled on astonishingly delicious salted chocolate rye cookies at Tartine in the city. (Okay, I ate my cookie in about two bites, but they were just so good.) She brought me a bag of plums from the bounty of her yard--some from a Green Gage plum tree and some from a Santa Rosa plum tree. She apologized for being a little late to our tea date, but she had almost forgotten the bag of plums on the table and had to turn back, for she knew I would hardly forgive her if she had left them behind.
As we settled in, I asked her to tell me the story of these plums. Often when I ask someone this question about food, the story is as simple as the one that our former neighbors (who just moved, darn them) have to give: that apricot tree was just there wh…

Barley, Zucchini, and Red Pepper Risotto

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Continuing in my newest interest in expanding my repertoire of grains, I present to you a simple summer barley risotto.

Sure, sure, you purists out there (I see you!) are scoffing right now. Barley cannot be risotto, you say. Okay, fair enough. You're right: that hearty and heartwarming Italian rice dish is steeped in the history of that country, and to suggest that barley can waltz right in and claim to be risotto is a little ridiculous. I hear you.

However, we're trying to mix up the diet here, people.


While its history is somewhat contentious, most agree that Italian rice has origins in India, the Arab world, and Spain. Emerging from India, rice was probably introduced to Spain by the Arabs in the Middle Ages; the Spanish then brought rice to Italy, probably through the Po Valley (with its rivers and flat lands--the ideal rice-growing environment) in the 14th century. Both the Spanish and Italian cooks ran with it. From paella to risotto, rice became associated with some of …