Sunday, May 15, 2016

Spring Salad with Halloumi from Honey & Co.

We are in May: the month of exhaustion for teachers and students alike. And in the midst of said exhaustion, a simple, beautiful, and flavorful salad seems just the ticket. Because I don't have energy for much else. Seriously. Do not expect a lot from an educator in May.

I snapped up this bright and peppy cookbook a few months ago at my local used bookstore. Marked down to a mere fraction of the cost of a new cookbook (and without a spot, scratch, or dallop of sauce on it!), this book basically begged to be mine. What, with it's beautiful photographs, Middle Eastern recipes, and association with Ottolenghi, how could I deny it?

Honey & Co. is the brain- and love-child of Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, acclaimed chefs who opened a small restaurant in London in 2012 after having done their time with the famed Yotam Ottolenghi (among others in their storied culinary upbringing).

Srulovich writes that they wanted their restaurant to be "a noisy, crazy, sexy, smoky, messy, food-/love-/people-celebration of a place." And lucky for us, they shared a cookbook that, maybe won't transform your kitchen into a hive of Middle Eastern cum British cooking, but will at least transport you there via your taste buds.

This recipe is pretty simple--the combination of zucchini, peas, and fava beans (also known as broad beans) is spectacular with all of its shades of green. The saffron and lemon dressing is very acidic, but after dotting a little on the halloumi (or all over the salad), we mixed in a little more olive oil and water. It made a fantastic dressing overall.

So, go out, show your local, May-induced-dazed educator some love.

Or bring them this salad. They are, no doubt, equivalent.  I promise.


Spring Salad with Halloumi from Honey & Co.
Adapted from Honey & Co: Food from the Middle East

4 Servings 

4 cups water
1 heaped tsp salt
1/2 cup shelled peas
1/2 cup shelled fava beans (or broad beans)
1 head Little Gem lettuce
1 medium zucchini
3 sprigs of fresh mint, picked
a pinch of salt
a pinch of black pepper
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tsp for frying
8 ounces Manouri or Halloumi cheese

For the lemon sauce
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small unwaxed lemon, finely sliced, skin and all, seeds removed
a pinch of saffron
1/2 cup of water
1 tsp honey

1. To make the lemon sauce:  Heat the oil in a small frying pan and add the lemon slices.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the start to color. Add the saffron and water; bring to a boil, then reduce the heat as low as possible and cook slowly for about 30 minutes. You may need to add more water. Once the lemons are very sot, stir in the honey and mix well. Transfer to a food processor and puree until completely smooth.

2.  To make the salad: Bring the 4 cups of water and the salt to a boil. Plunge the peas in for 30 seconds and then removed with a slotted spoon to a bowl of iced water. Return the water to a boil, and repeat the process with the fava beans--they will need 1 minute in the water. Remove the peas and the beans from the iced water as soon as they are cold (so they don't get waterlogged). Remove the outer skin from the fava beans by pinching them and pulling out the beans.

3.  Separate the lettuce into leaves, then wash and dry them, and set them aside. Use a vegetable peeler to create thin ribbons of zucchini. Mix in a large bowl with the peas, fava beans, lettuce, mint leaves, salt, pepper, lemon juice and oil. Arrange on a large platter or on individual serving plates.

4.  Cut the cheese into 8 thick slices. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a frying pa on medium-high heat and cook the cheese for about 30 seconds. Then flip the slices over to cook on the other side for another 30 seconds.

5.  Place the slices on each individual salad or arrange them over the large serving platter. Dot the lemon sauce all over the salad. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Honey-Basil Lemonade

This is not lemonade. 

This is a vehicle for vodka. Or a topper to a crisp champagne. 

Helene Henderson in her re-issued cookbook, Malibu Farm Cookbook (2014), will try to convince you that you should drink this lovely little concoction without a little hooch.  She'll even tell you that you can make lemonade when life gives you lemons. And I say, mix that lemonade up with something stronger, and sweet business, you have a sweet, herby, tart drink worthy of any summer backyard.

This latest cookbook comes to us as we're prepping for those upcoming sultry summer days. I get it, those of you in Colorado cannot fathom such a future, given that Loveland just got 15 inches of snow in the last 72 hours, and my New Yorker friends suffered through a baseball game where the weather was more appropriate for a Jets tailgate. 

I get it. Summery lemonade may not even be registering. However, Henderson is promising us Malibu, promising us all fresh Californian cuisine and simple preparations. Malibu Farm is a small Southern Californian business stationed at the end of a pier and comes complete with a cafe, restaurant, and a commitment to small, local farms. Chef-owner Henderson's cookbook boasts oversized pages with breathtaking photography (including a picture of her walking her goats on the beach). This cookbook is aspirational as it is inspirational. So let's start slicing up those lemons and make some lemonade, despite when the weather forecast has been.

Admittedly, I did start with a mighty easy recipe, and the rest of the cookbook promises to be just as inviting.  Watch out Shrimp with Farro and White Beans or Honey Lemon Saffron Chicken--I am coming for you. Only after I have indulged in the Smoked Salmon-Ricotta Scramble (we take brunch seriously here in California) or the Burrata, Nectarine, and Arugula Salad with Sesame Seed Candy (why, oh why is it not nectarine season yet). 

Let's toast the summer, even though it's not here for anyone yet. But let's raise our glasses high, my friends, for I am as ready as can be for those warm days and cool nights, that layer of fog fingering the coast line, and sweet, sweet glasses of lemonade.


Honey-Basil Lemonade
Adapted from Malibu Farm Cookbook

2 Quarts

3/4 cup honey
1 cup lemon juice
1 handful of basil, leaved only
6 cups water

1. In a blender, combine honey, lemon juice, and basil. Process until the honey is emulsified into the juice.

2.  Strain the basil leaves.  Combine the remaining lemon-honey mixture with the 6 cups of water and serve on ice.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Hamburger (with Grilled Red Cabbage Slaw)

There's a lot of pressure when you put the definite article the in front of anything. You're suggesting that yours is the one and only, the end all be all, the real deal. Such is the case with Ithai Schori and Chris Taylor's hamburger recipe from Twenty Dinners. They claim that they, in fact, have The Hamburger Recipe.

I'll let you determine this for yourself.

But it is worth the experiment.

The somewhat fatty meat lends moisture. 

The bourbon lends noticeable and welcome sweetness. 

The jalapeno gives a little heat and pop. 

The sheer quantity of onions guarantees super juiciness. 

This is a nice change of pace from your everyday hamburger.  Seriously, you want to give this a try, don't you? Pile with grilled red cabbage (or heap it on the side, as I did), and you have a real burger.

The slaw was perhaps is a little oily for my taste--you might cut a little of the oil yourself, but the recipe below maintains the recommended oil (as I haven't done any further experiments yet to determine how little you need). 

However, by smacking a quarter of a head of cabbage onto a grill before making a slaw, you're guaranteeing a smoky, succulent companion for an already smashing burger. 

Maybe this is The slaw to have in the summer months as well. 

As a final note, Norooz, the Persian New Year, passed about six weeks ago (which is also an indication of just how long the delay between pictures and post actually is on this here site. Sorry.). A co-worker of mine gifted me and others this gorgeous Barbari bread. Before we had the hamburger, the husband's parents, the husband, and I, we all feasted on bread before we began dinner. It was lovely. I am going to admit it--I used Google here: سال نو مبارک.


The Hamburger
Adapted from Twenty Dinners

6 Servings 

2 pounds ground beef, with 80:20 fat ratio
1 large yellow or sweet onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
3 Tbsp bourbon
3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup finely chopped parsley
1 Tbsp ground black pepper
Grapeseed or vegetable oil
1Tbsp kosher salt
6 buns
Tomatoes, onions, mayonnaise, pickles, or other toppings, including the Grilled Red Cabbage Slaw (below)

1. In a bowl, combine beef, onion, garlic, and jalapeno with the bourbon and Worcestershire sauce. (Depending on how much spice you want, you can use more or less of the jalapeno.) Let the mixture marinate, at least 20 minutes, while you prep other ingredients, including your grill, for your meal.  

2.  Add the parsley and peeper to the meat mixture and combine well. Try a pinch of the meat and adjust the seasoning to taste. Divide the meat into 6 balls, and gently form them into patties.

3.  Once the grill is very hot, use your grill brush to scour off any bits from the grate. Roll up a dish towel, coat it lightly with oil, and rub it along the grate so that your food doesn't stick.

4.  Salt one side of the meat. Place the patties salt side down on the grill and let cook for 4 minutes with the lid open. After 4 minutes, salt the tops of the burger, and then flip the patties over. Continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes or until they are done to your preference. You can tell by touching the patty--if it gives easily and it's soft, it's still rare. Once you feel a little resistance, it's medium rare. Firmer than that is getting into medium and then well-done territory.

5.  Grill some buns and layer the patties with your toppings of choice.

Grilled Red Cabbage Slaw
Adapted from Twenty Dinners


6 Servings 

1 cup sesame oil*
1 1/4 cups tamari soy sauce
1 4-inch piece of peeled fresh ginger, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium head of red cabbage
2 small handfuls of fresh cilantro, chopped

* Would 1/2 cup be enough? You tell me.

1. In a large bowl, mix together the oil, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. Trim the root of the cabbage, quarter it (or cut into 6 wedges if it is very large), and put in a large bowl. Pour the oil mixture over the cabbage wedges and let it marinate for at least 1 hour at room temperature.

2.  Preheat the grill until very hot. Remove the cabbage wedges and tap against the bowl to shake off the marinade. Throw the cabbage down on the grill, avoiding the center--the hottest part of the grill. Reserve the marinade to use as a dressing for after the cabbage is cooked. Close the lid of the frill and allow the cabbage to roast. After 7 minutes, flip the pieces, and cover. Cook for another 7 minutes. Now move the wedges to the center of the frill to blacken, turning every couple of minutes so it doesn't burn to a crisp.

3.  The outermost leaves will start to peel away. Pull them off until all of the layers have seared and have blackened slightly. Chop all the cabbage into thin strips, toss with the dressing to taste, add cilantro, and serve.