Roasted Artichokes – 30/67

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I am not really an animal person. I don’t ooh and ah over dogs passed on the street or with their owners on the train (RIP going anywhere). I hate movies about animals, I think zoos are dumb, and I would gladly never watch a cat video again on youtube. I don’t really like the term “fur baby” or “dog mom” because… how could an animal be like a baby? It never learns to talk or read, it will always get in the way of vacations, and kids eventually wipe their own butts. I love my friends and family who love their pets, and so I give as much love as I can to their pets. I don’t dislike them! I promise! I just didn’t really get the point. 

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This is not a popular opinion. It doesn’t make you liked at parties. In fact, it makes people think you’re a psychopath. 

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I’m not a psychopath! I just didn’t grow up with animals. I may have been slightly traumatized by a friend’s giant Newfoundland in first grade and a dog bite or two in elementary school. Animals don’t really like me either, so ha. 

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And so it is slightly incongruent that I have now found myself the owner of a very cute cat. I have officially had a cat in my house for one week… and I like it!

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A couple things incited this progression. In our old garden unit apartment, we had a bunch of strays living in the backyard. And oh my lord were they adorable. They just kept breeding and breeding, so there was a new crop of kittens every few weeks. They played and climbed and stared at us through our window. They warmed my cold, animal-averse heart! And then I started spending more time with a friend’s two adorable cats. I found myself wanting to hang out with them. The cats! Not just the friend! So we began to talk about fostering. 

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And then this whole quarantine thing happened. Now was the time! We signed up to foster with 4 different agencies and — there were no cats left in NYC. Sigh. Good for the kitties, bad for us. But then, lo and behold! Our friend Becky was one of those lucky fostering ones, and she happened to have a wonderfully cute and friendly and curious cat who turns out she was allergic to and did we want her?? 

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And this is how I’ve found myself a new card carrying member of the I Have A Pet club. And I am totally smitten with Sadie Pumpernickel! She’s a little love. I can’t stop taking pictures of her. And poking her when she’s sleeping so she’ll wake up and play with me. I’m not sure I’m at “cat mom” level yet, but I get you, loved people, who want to talk about your animals a lot. I don’t blame you. Let’s send each other pet pics! This little cat is breaking up the monotony of isolation and bringing us so much joy. I’m so glad she’s here. 

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This artichoke recipe came from my friend Erin, who I’ve likely offended in the past with my pet feelings. I’m sorry, Erin! Your dog is a total sweet face! I promise it wasn’t personal. I have you to thank for seeing a wonderful, committed pet owner in action. And also for forever changing the way I’ll make artichokes. These are so great, so permeated by the garlic and flavorful after basting in their own juices. These roasted artichokes are the purest, highest calling of one of the most magical vegetables. Make them now, it’s artichoke season y’all!

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Roasted Artichokes

from my friend Erin, thanks!

fresh artichokes
some peeled garlic cloves
lemon juice
olive oil
kosher salt

melted butter
mayo thinned with lemon juice
toast

Preheat oven to 425F. Cut off the top third of the artichoke. Snip any pointy leaves. Cut down the base. Rub all over with lemon juice to prevent browning. Pull back inner leaves of the artichokes, stab with a knife, and stuff with whole garlic cloves. At least 2-3 each. Drizzle all over with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and add a final squeeze of lemon. Wrap tightly in two layers of tin foil. Roast for an hour and twenty minutes, until the bottom is soft when pricked with a paring knife. Remove from oven and let sit til cool enough to handle. 

Spread garlic on toast. Dip bottoms of leaves into your sauce of choice. Or not! They’re so delicious even without. Don’t forget the heart, the best part. Avoid the choke.

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Stuffed Grape Leaves – 29/67

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My high school graduation party was catered by a little mom and pop Egyptian market in the suburb next to ours. Instead of burgers and potato salad, we had vats of falafel, tabbouleh, baba ghanoush, hummus, buttery rice pilaf, and stuffed grape leaves. My mouth waters just typing all those words in a row. I’m not sure where my Middle Eastern food obsession began (maybe the Lebanese restaurant next to my dad’s work that was a treat when we’d visit him there?), or how/where/if it collides with my Jewish roots, but I do know the love is deep. I’m not interested in debating ownership of my favorite foods — I know many countries claim creation of falafel and hummus and dolmas, but I will not engage. I will happily eat all varieties. Whichever is nearest is the best. (Except for my vast disappointment while teaching in Azerbaijan a couple years back, where I learned ALL dolmas there have meat. They called this rice-filled stye “fake dolmas” and looked down their noses at it. I had zero stuffed grape leaves in Azerbaijan 😦 .) 

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The owner of that mom and pop market loved my parents and got to know them a bit — I mean, they’d order TONS of food for big parties every so often, how could they not. At some point around high school he told us that he couldn’t wait to cater my wedding someday. I’m sure I was immediately embarrassed and rolled my eyes and said yeah sure, whatever…

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And then ten years later, lo and behold, I was engaged! And the first thing I knew I wanted at my wedding (besides the right husband 😉 ) — was the food! Stuffed grape leaves, falafel, mezze and dips galore. Homey, bright, flavorful food with history. No chicken breasts or veggie pastas. We started from food and made decisions from there. As the wedding was not close to my childhood home, alas, we could not fulfill the prophecy made by Mr. Market Owner, but I never forgot his words.  We hired a different mom and pop operation — or I guess it was more like pop and friends — and it was more Turkish than Egyptian, but oh man I feel pretty good about claiming we really had the best ever wedding food. The grape leaves were lip-pursing with pomegranate molasses, the hummus silky smooth, the fattoush crunchy and seasonal. I only wish I ate more of it. 

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I can’t believe I’ve never tried to make grape leaves, long one of my favorite foods. I will always order stuffed grape leaves if they’re on the menu (well, if they’re meat-free and nut-less, not guaranteed), and rarely have I found one I don’t like. Daniel was iffy about them until I came along and showed him the light. Calling them “grape leaves” doesn’t do justice do the tangy, spicy, citrusy, poppy dare-I-say vegetal dumpling that awaits. And so this seemed like a great project for a Sunday afternoon during quarantine. I had a jar of grape leaves around from my bridal shower and had a recipe for them in #thebinder, but I went off script and used a completely different recipe, one that had Turkish spices, as we just bought black Urfa chili flakes and dried mint from my friend’s amazing spice company and wanted to put them to use, and because it was vegetarian. Daniel added some beef to his, but admitted it wasn’t necessary. We didn’t totally nail the cooking time on these, but they’re still amazing, and still highly recommended for a weekend project. 

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five years ago: grilled pineapple and baked bean tacos

Stuffed Grape Leaves

adapted from Give Recipe

1 lb jar of grape leaves (we didn’t use all of them)

Filling
2 cups white rice, rinsed
1 big tomato, peeled and finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
4-6 cloves garlic, finely diced
¼ – ½ cup fresh parsley, finely diced
½ teaspoon cayenne (these are on the spicy side! do less if you’d like)
½ teaspoon black urfa chili flakes (optional, but nice and smoky)
2 teaspoons dried mint
1 teaspoon sumac
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon tomato or pepper paste (optional)
juice of 1 lemon
½ cup olive oil

Ground beef, optional

To Cook
At least 2 cups water
¼ cup olive oil

Remove grape leaves from jar and soak in hot water to remove some of the brine. 

To make filling, mix all filling ingredients in a big bowl. To make a meaty version, remove about a quarter of the mixture and place in a new bowl. Add about a quarter pound of ground beef and mix to incorporate. 

Lay out a grape leaf. Cut off the pointy stem with a paring knife. Place about a teaspoon or two of filling in a line right above the removed stem. Fold the bottom of the leaf up. Fold both sides in. Roll up to form a small log. Don’t roll too tightly, as rice will expand as it’s cooked and you don’t want them to explode. (The video from from Give Recipe shows this folding process clearly.)

Repeat until done with filling. As you’re filling, remove any misshapen or torn leaves. Use them to cover the bottom of a wide pot or braiser. Then, stack all filled and rolled grape leaves in the pot. Pour 2 cups water and ¼ cup olive oil over your nested grape leaves. Cover pot and turn heat to low. Cook for at least 45 minutes. Check for rice doneness and continue adding water and steaming as necessary. Ours took another 20ish minutes. 

Try to stop yourself from eating the whole pan warm off the stove. Store in the fridge and serve with yogurt if you’d like. 

Perfect Glazed Salmon – 28/67

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Two new experiences I have coronavirus quarantine to thank for:

1. Online grocery shopping.  I must confess, I love going grocery shopping in person. I am a walking stereotype at the farmers market, pointing at each variety of potato and sampling each apple. I stop in every new bakery I pass, rarely to buy anything but just to see and smell what they have and file it away for later. I take great joy in going slowly through the aisles of our grocery store, thinking about future combinations of ingredients or if it’s overkill to get another jar of fancy olives. In our neighborhood, I go to different markets for produce, cheese, breads, and pantry staples. 

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Alas, the pandemic has made all of these excursions moot for the time being. The one time we went to a store in the past three weeks, it was stressful and fast and overwhelming. So! Now we find ourselves scouring freshdirect for available time slots. We tried instacart before their strike; didn’t recommend it then and definitely don’t recommend it now. (Daniel had ordered under a pound of chicken breasts and they delivered (and charged us for!) $26 of chicken!) When Daniel and I got a freshdirect timeslot last week in a stressful episode well past midnight, we literally whooped and high fived. More coveted than Hamilton tickets. What a relief to have ingredients delivered. We’re so lucky to have this option. And most things were in stock! Friends, we are back in full-stocked flour and canned bean and toilet paper land, I am happy to report. 

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A note – I have so much respect for the folks at our grocery stores right now —  restocking, cashier-ing, limiting customers, and continuing to show up for their essential work in these scary conditions. Thank you, thank you. 

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Anyway, we online-ordered salmon, which I usually cook about once a year. I like to eat fish out of the house, but rarely cook it myself. Since we’re not eating out of the house, now seems like a good time to practice that fish cookery! This recipe is really the only way I ever make salmon. It’s how my mom made it growing up. It’s just sweet enough and full of umami and comes out perfectly cooked and honestly every other preparation just wishes it were this one.  I ordered “one piece salmon” on freshdirect, I guess not paying attention to sizes. We received one fillet, which was a fine dinner for one. Daniel was fine with one of the aforementioned chicken breasts given the same treatment. It worked remarkably well, a good trick to keep in mind for next time. Served with leftover farro and green bean salad, it was a perfect dinner in. I wish we had leftovers! 

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2. And the second new experience I have is reading graphic novels! I’ve wanted to read Watchmen for years, but it’s a bulky two-hands-needed book to bring on the train everyday. And so hurrah! What a perfect moment to read it. I was shocked by how theatrical the whole thing was, playing with time and memory and realizations in beautiful ways. I thought it was going to be low on plot, high on action, but it really was a psychological character study about a world on the brink of destruction. An apt and engaging book to read in this moment. Highly recommend! And the movie was cool too. Lots of imagery and dialogue taken impressively from the book, though some characters and diversions I would’ve imagined differently. Regardless, it was a joy to watch while eating salmon for dinner. Looking forward to the HBO show next! 

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What are you reading and watching during this pandemic? Anything good??

one year ago: ah, no posts, as I was in Russia, eating mayo-y salads and lots of smoked fish and black bread aplenty. Perhaps I should try to recreate the famous herring under a fur coat while I expand my fish-cooking repertoire?
two years ago: –
three years ago: 
italian egg drop soup
four years ago: charred chipotle broccoli tacos
five years ago: simple pasta with smoked scamorza and tomatoes 

Perfect Glazed Salmon 

my mom’s classic recipe 

4 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 pound salmon

Preheat oven to 450F. 

In a small bowl, mix together mustard, soy sauce, and brown sugar. 

Remove roughly 2 tablespoons of this mixture and put in a new small bowl. Add rice vinegar and set aside. This is now your dipping sauce. 

Put fish in a baking dish. Pour the not-dipping-sauce on the fish. Bake for 15 minutes, or until desired doneness. My mom says you could also grill it for 4 minutes/side. 

Serve with dipping sauce and a green vegetable and a carb. 

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Baked Macaroni and Cheese Casserole – 27/67

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Today is day 17 of my quarantine in Brooklyn. 

18 days ago, I cautiously went out for dinner, took the subway, met a friend for coffee, waited in a line that wrapped around the whole grocery store. 18 days feels like a year ago. This day 18 days ago didn’t feel like a particularly noteworthy day (besides the long check-out line), but has now become a symbol of everything that changed since then. 

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Since then, like you (I hope), I have left my apartment rarely. I have not gone more than 5 blocks from my home, besides one bike ride. I have ordered takeout 0 times. I have washed more dishes than I thought possible. I have slogged through the workday to the hum of (still considered “essential”????) construction next door. I haven’t done laundry and am still not sure where/how/when we will accomplish that. I have gotten very mad at online grocery delivery services whose websites break and who have no delivery times available, and who I am continuing to find empathy for. I have cycled between work leggings – sleep leggings – yoga leggings – repeat. I have gone stir crazy and sang dramatic musical theater songs at the top of my lungs. 

And also — I have cried at NYTimes push notifications calling the hospitals in my beautiful city “an apocalypse”. I have cried while donating to GoFundMes for our local restaurants and bars. I have cried about all the plays that had to close early, the artists out of work, the nonprofits wondering how they will keep up their payroll. I have cried about the health care workers putting their lives at risk to treat the flood of patients that isn’t slowing down. I have teared up at many a casual “how are you doing”, because the answer is still, well, not great. 

And also — I celebrated my one year anniversary not by visiting one of the best omakase places in NYC (in the Upper East Side, which might as well be as far away as Alaska at this point), but instead by making a version of ma po tofu with the somewhat correct ingredients we happened to have at home and by getting drunk on a full bottle of champagne leftover from our last party. I have made dinner with my remarkable husband every single night and shared a pot of coffee with him every single morning. I have gotten said husband to do online yoga classes with me! I have facetimed, zoomed, google hang-outed, phone called, texted, instagram messaged, keybased, and whatsapped friends I haven’t spoken to in months. I have felt extraordinarily lucky to be safe at home, still with a source of income, still eating well, still healthy. 

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I am cycling through being grateful, and scared, and anxious, and just sad like no other moment in my life. It gives me hope to know everyone else I know is experiencing this cycle too. And throughout all these micro-adjustments, we’re all cooking! All the time. I made a dorky silly google doc to track what we’re making for dinner — partly because it gives me some structure and partly because hey, I already did the work, maybe others can get inspiration from it? A mini blog. You can find that here. All recipes are loosely followed and adapted aplenty. 

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We’ve been making some comfort food, some projects, lots of fresh veggies, many easy pantry meals. In the comfort food category: I can’t believe I’ve never shared my Grandma Evie’s mac and cheese recipe. It is one of the first foods I remember eating growing up, one of the first things I made for a dinner party in college, a staple at every family event (especially alongside bagels and lox at brunch!). Most of the family fought over the crunchy parts on top, but I always liked the creamy core more. My mom always said her version wasn’t as good as her mom’s, and mine is likely not as good as either of theirs. 

The recipe is from my great-grandma Aranka, a Hungarian immigrant to NYC (hence the paprika finishing this recipe). When I get overwhelmed with what’s going on in the world, I take comfort in thinking all I have to do is stay at home, in constant contact with my family and loved ones, and I should be safe. I can’t imagine the trip taken by my great-grandparents, escaping hateful countries, getting on a boat to a new home, with no way to communicate besides snail mail. I think of these family stories and am strengthened: New York City, and its vast network of resilient residents, will recover. It may not be how it was before, but it will be back. People always need food and art and gathering places. We will pick up the pieces and move always forward. We just need to stay the f home and cook cook cook. 

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one year ago: caramelized onion and goat cheese hamantashen
four years ago: kung pao Brussel sprouts and tofu
five years ago: spicy lemon fregola with artichokes and caramelized onions (omg I might actually have everything to make this during quarantine!!)

Baked Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

passed down from my spunky Great Grandma Aranka

Most of a 1 lb box of pasta (elbows are traditional, for yesterday’s version I used part farfalle and part orecchiette)
About 8 oz cheese (a block of cheddar is great. I did half cheddar, half gouda)
One can tomato sauce (14 oz preferably, or 8 oz if that’s all you have in you pantry, like me)
Milk – one can’s worth
Salt and pepper
Paprika (I only have smoked and it’s great!)
**this time I added in a chopped chile in adobo sauce because it sounded good. It was!**

Preheat the oven to 350F. 

Boil your pasta in salty water til al dente. Drain. 

Grate your cheese into a big bowl. Add tomato sauce. Pour milk into the tomato sauce can and add to the bowl. Add chile in adobo if you’d like. Add drained pasta and a bit of salt and pepper. Mix together. If it looks dry, add a bit more milk. 

Pour pasta into a baking dish. Sprinkle paprika on top. Bake for 50 minutes, until bubbling and top is golden brown. Let a cool a bit before serving. This makes amazing leftovers, and can be frozen too. 

 

Fennel Orzotto with Roasted Baby Eggplants (or Chicken) – 25/67

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Today (well, Friday, when I wrote this), the sky is blue, the sun is shining, and the weather feels like it should for September. This morning, students all over the country went to climate strikes, and let the world know they aren’t afraid to use their voices. Earlier this week, Elizabeth Warren held a rally in Washington Square Park and talked about how she’s here because of women’s work. And she took selfies with the crowd for 4 hours. And she had people in the crowd introduce themselves to their neighbors (the best way to quickly form community, imho). I can’t help but be excited. (Feel free to listen to this episode of The Daily and then talk about it with me.) Change and plans and revolt are in the air. 

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Also today, I had my first rehearsal for a new kid’s puppet show I’m directing. It felt like the right group of humans in the room, and we joked around about Ritz the Rat (“The name’s Ritz, Puttin’ on The”) and silly songs. It was goofy and fun and optimistic. Today I’m marginally hung over from drinking two carafes of wine last night with friends over pizza and burrata. Today I have happily consumed leftovers from Daniel’s last night solo cooking adventure, a rice-bean-veggie instant pot affair, even though it includes some little pieces of chicken. I have come to accept I am more flexitarian than vegetarian these days. I will not go out of my way to order or buy meat. But if someone has already purchased it and made it, I don’t have to be as strict, especially when it means free lunch. I’m still not particularly interested in cooking chicken (and that’s really the only meat I’d broach the subject about), but please don’t get mad at me for eating a soup dumpling and still calling myself mostly a vegetarian. (Nobody actually does this, everyone I know is quite even-keeled and open-minded, I’m just putting it out there as a generality.) I realize the earth doesn’t need more meat eaters, and I never want it to be a regular part of my diet. But also, meat dumplings taste better than veggie dumplings. 

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All this to say, I don’t mind a couple Daniel-made chicken-adjacent ingredients. A cup of chicken broth goes far in an otherwise vegetarian dish, and usually makes Daniel more excited to eat whatever it is we’re cooking. I was okay eating this orzo, even though it was browned in chicken fat. I know this isn’t the case for real vegetarians, and apologize if I’ve offended you or lead you astray. So I give the caveat of this delicious recipe — I’ve only made the meaty version of the orzotto (which is, uh, orzo cooked like risotto). And I loved it. So much flavor! However I’m sure it would be equally delicious as a purely veggie main, using just butter or some olive oil in the early steps. The eggplant was a wonderful chicken replacement. Let me know if you try it. 

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three years ago: miso mizuna soup
five years ago: spicy micheladas

Fennel Orzotto with Roasted Baby Eggplants (or Chicken) 

thank you Molly for this delicious dinner recipe! (that I totally hacked to make it more veg-adjacent)

Baby Eggplant – a riff on this real simple recipe 

2 baby eggplants
1 lemon, half in slices, half juiced
Herb sprigs such as thyme, oregano, or rosemary
A couple sliced garlic cloves
Olive oil
s&p

Preheat oven to 450F. Make a slit in your eggplants, and stuff with lemon and garlic and herbs if you got them. Drizzle with half a lemon’s worth of juice and some olive oil. Liberally salt and pepper. Place in a small dish and cover with foil. Roast for 40ish minutes, flipping occasionally, until puckery and soft and tender. Take foil off for last 5 minutes of cooking.

 Chicken and Fennel Orzotto 

2 tablespoons butter
3 chicken legs, bone-in and skin-on (This recipe originally called for 6 pieces of chicken, but I decided the eggplants were a good sub for half the chicken. All other amounts from Molly’s original recipe have remained) 

1 fennel bulb, chopped small (fronds chopped and reserved for garnish)
1 leek, white and pale green parts, in half moons
1 cup dried orzo
⅓ cup dry white wine
2½ cups broth
Zest and juice from half a lemon, plus extra wedges to serve
Chopped fresh parsley
s&p

(This is the part about Chicken)

Preheat oven to 400F. 

Melt butter in a biggish cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper your chicken legs. Place chicken in pan, skin side down. Make sure chicken is in a single layer. If it doesn’t all fit, nestle in new pieces when old ones have slightly shrunk. Cook until meat is opaque around the edges and skin is deeply golden, about 6-7 minutes. Turn chicken so the skin side is up, and transfer skillet to oven, where your eggplant may already be cooking. If so, turn oven down to 400 for this part. Bake until chicken is cooked through, 10-15 minutes. Or until a sticky pokey thing says 160F. Transfer chicken pieces to a plate. Turn oven back up to 450F if roasting eggplant. 

(Start here for Veg Orzotto)

Return skillet to medium heat. (If veg version, add EVOO or a nub of butter.) Add fennel and leek, sprinkle with salt, and saute for about 5 minutes. Veggies should be starting to turn golden brown. Add orzo and toast for a couple minutes, or until evenly browned. 

Deglaze the pan with wine and cook for some moments, until absorbed. Add broth in half cup increments, stirring fairly frequently. Wait until each dose is mostly absorbed before adding the next half cupful. Don’t let the pan get too dry. Taste around 2 cups of broth to see if orzo is cooked, if not, keep adding broth until it’s al dente. This process should take 10-15 minutes. 

Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to your liking, and lemon juice and zest. Place chicken and/or eggplant on top. Sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds and parsley. Serve with lemon wedges. 

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great leftovers!

Israeli Salad – 23/67

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This salad encompasses many of my favorite things. 

1. My CSA. Yes yes, I know, I have waxed not-so-eloquently on here before about the joy I get from receiving a local fruit and veggie haul each week. This year’s CSA, in our new neighborhood, is even more bountiful than previous versions. We have been loving their tomato varieties, pepper assortments, greens, corn, beans, squashes, herbs, melons, and more all summer. This salad, though this time around not fully comprised of CSA goodies, is indicative of the type of salads I’ve been loving all summer. (team #nolettuceinsalads) If you let me ramble about vegetables, I will.

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2. My obsession with Yotam Ottolenghi. I have also droned on on here ad nauseam about my adoration of celebrity chef Ottolenghi. I have 3 of his cookbooks, which I regularly look through and which often end up open in the middle of our living room. I follow him and his hashtag on Instagram. We saw him talk a year ago-ish, which was a highlight of the year. He has a basic chopped tomato salad recipe in Simple, where he says “The addition of tahini paste to a familiar tomato and cucumber salad is a revelation.” Okay, hyperbolic much, Mr. Ottolenghi? But, uh, he’s right. It’s so good. I added tahini to this one and don’t regret a thing.

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3. New shiny technology. This if my first post written on my shiny new computer! I haven’t had my own new computer since at least 2012, and that one unfortunately met a quick demise a year or so later by cup of water 😦 Since then, I’ve been cycling through Daniel’s hand-me-downs. It feels so nice to have my own, brand new computer to set up and get to know. Hopefully it lasts for a good long while because apple has enough money. (I also just got a new phone, so I’m enjoying fast internet connection and RAM speeds (am I using that word right?) all over the place.)

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4. My grandma! Love you! Truly one of my favorite cooks, who always knows how to bring community together through food and care. I have had this salad, or a variation, at a hundred casual dinners and gatherings. It’s so homey, yet the dressing is bracing and assertive. I wouldn’t have expected it’s a mixture of lemon juice and regular old white vinegar. But it’s going to be a go-to from here on out. Glad to have this version in my repertoire. 

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one and two years ago: nothing of note, but I made this cheesy zucchini orzo from half baked harvest for dinner the other night and dang that was a great dinner
three years ago:
chopped summer salad with feta, mint, and lime (made this for dinner a couple nights ago)
four years ago: roasted green pepper and smoked gouda pasta
five years ago: roasted radish and pepper pizza and caramelized fennel with dill and goat cheese (another Ottolenghi-inspired dish!) 

Israeli Salad

A la my grandma, plus Ottolenghi 

Salad
2 cucumbers, peeled, quartered the long way, some seeds removed, and chopped small
3 tomatoes, chopped (I added extra baby tomatoes because yum they’re my favorite)
1 red onion, diced (Vidalia would also be good)
1 bell pepper, chopped (red is sweeter than green, and looks pretty!)

Dressing
⅓ cup olive oil
⅓ cup white vinegar
juice from 1½ lemons (¼ cup)
generous portions of salt and pepper and dried oregano
Small handful freshly chopped parsley,
1 ground up large garlic clove (or garlic powder)

Put all salad veggies in a big bowl.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine all dressing ingredients thoroughly with a whisk. Taste and adjust as needed.

Add dressing to salad veggies and toss toss toss. Now this is a perfect side dish! To bulk it up a bit:

To make it extra
Add feta. Top with za’atar and a swirl of tahini.
OR boil up about a cup of orzo. Add to veggies. Lemony Israeli Pasta Salad!
OR both! 

Zucchini Bread – 22/67

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I just had a major milestone birthday, and I have to say, I’m feeling pretty darn good about it. I am finally, for the first time, in the same decade as my husband. I am finally the age that all the cool women who have their shit figured out seem to be. I realize I have been saying I’m “almost 30” for the past three years. It’s about time this happened, right?

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I wonder if this mindset is because I will always be that much younger than Daniel. I will always be the young one in our relationship, and also in our group of friends. I also remain the youngest person in my office by some years. So although I am excited about hitting this milestone, I’m also aware that I’m still relatively young, and that won’t be changing anytime soon. Phew. 

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So while the Amazon burned and people lost their minds over a fast food fried chicken sandwich, I slipped into the next decade. There were midnight nachos, the most perfect yoga class, and a dinner in which I got to accidentally-eavesdrop on the other Ilana (squee!). This weekend there was perfect cake, drinks galore, crab rolls, karaoke, and dancing. Dear friends, delicious food, and cooperative weather. If this is 30, then I am very very happy about 30. 

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I made this zucchini bread a couple weeks ago, as part of a thank you brunch I threw at my home for my camp staff. What a way to feel like a grown-up, welcoming the younger counselors who think of me as their boss. (I mean, I am their boss, but they feel more like friends than anything else!) In this decade, I’ll welcome these moments, when I get to embrace leadership, create community, and open my home to others. The 30s are going to be the beeeeest!

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And this zucchini bread is hella good too. Thanks for the recipe, Katherine! 

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no previous years, but looking to use up your end-of-summer zucchini? May I recommend, from the archives: veggie curry, zoodle latkes, or easy garlicky tomato zoodles

Feel Like an Adult Zucchini Bread

thanks to my friend Katherine for the recipe!

3 eggs
1 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 ¾ cup sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups flour (I ran out so used about 1 cup regular flour, 1 cup whole wheat, and 1 cup bread flour. It was still delicious)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Optional mix ins: chocolate chips, raisins, dried cranberries, nuts (I did mini chocolate chips in the muffins but kept the loaf plain)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 2 loaf pans or line 24 muffin cups with liners (I did one big loaf pan and 6 muffins)

In a large bowl, beat eggs with a whisk or fork. Whisk in oil and sugar til incorporated. Add zucchini and vanilla. 

In a separate bowl, mix together flour(s), cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and any mix-ins. Add this combo to the zucchini bowl and mix until just combined. 

Divide batter into pans. Bake for at least 60 minutes (took me a little longer), or until a tester in the center comes out clean. Muffins will cook more quickly — start checking at 25 minutes. Let cool in tins. Leftovers stayed moist for daaaays. 

 

Cosmopolitan Curry – 21/67

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…named as such because it comes from everywhere and nowhere, according to Hanna. I love that description. And so fitting for my generation, who was born in a place, moves somewhere else for college, another place for a first job, and grad school after that. We’re all the combos of so many places. So cosmopolitan.

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This was another “no-recipe” from the book (see the first one here), where Hanna walked us through her method of making a very basic and infinitely adaptable pot of dinner. The basics are: “Cook onion and other alliums. Add spices or spice paste. Add vegetables, maybe a protein. Add coconut milk and tomatoes and simmer. Add something a little sweet. Garnish and eat.” From that basic formula, which of course I know quite well but never feel I have the ability to create anew from, Daniel and I collaborated on this wonderful dinner. We also used up 5 (!!) CSA veggies, perfect before I went out of town to celebrate the bachelorette party of the lady who gave us the courage to experiment.

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Be like Hanna, feel no need to stick to this recipe. Change the veggies, the proteins, the spices. Serve with rice, or not. Also, just be like Hanna in general, foraging berries on your hikes and not shying away from the vegetable temporary tattoos. By being fully, proudly yourself from an early age and following your whims. By leaning into unicorn beverages and their aftermath. Also by cultivating an amazing Girl Gang across the country who are so excited to wear neutral dresses in the mountains in a week. It was a pleasure to do bachelorettey things with you all. And cooking and eating together. We are a cosmopolitan group, hailing from all corners of the country and moments from your life.

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one and two years ago: who can be expected to cook in August in NYC?!
three years ago:
 just kidding, this is just a link to the amazing Sichuan-style eggplant I made for dinner tonight 
four years ago:
 maple blueberry balsamic beets
five years ago: barbecue sweet potato nachos 

Cosmopolitan Curry, or Thai-ish Veggie and Egg Curry

very loosely constructed from Hanna’s suggestions. PS more egg curry from the archives here

1 tablespoon fat (I used ghee)
1 onion, chopped small
3 cloves of garlic, diced
3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
2 cinnamon sticks
Big pinch red pepper flakes
1 eggplant, in small chunks
1 kohlrabi, peeled and cut in smaller chunks
1 zucchini, in half moons
Big handful of chopped tomatoes (or a can)
1 can full fat coconut milk
1 tablespoonish of sambal oelek (chili-garlic sauce)
4 eggs, hard boiled
1 bunch swiss chard, stems diced and leaves roughly chopped
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
Small handful peanuts, chopped

Heat ghee (or butter or oil) in a big pan. Add onion and a big pinch of salt and cook over medium heat until they’re translucent and starting to brown. Add garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add cinnamon sticks and curry paste and saute for a minute or two, until paste smells a little roasty.

Add eggplant, kohlrabi, zucchini, and swiss chard stems and saute until veggies start to brown. (Kohlrabi will remain a little crunchy in final dish — it’s quite pleasant, but if you’d like it softer, roast first. Or use something else!) Once veggies brown a bit, add tomatoes and cook until they start releasing their juices. Next add coconut milk and sambal oelek, and give it a good stir. Add some broth or water if it seems like it needs more liquid. Peel and score your hard boiled eggs, and nestle into the sauce. Simmer, with lid on, until veggies are tender.

When everything is cooked, take the lid off and add your greens. They will wilt very quickly.

Season to taste — at this point you could add salt, sugar, lime juice, hot sauce according to your preference. Remove cinnamon sticks. Cut eggs in half. Serve over rice, with lots of cilantro and crushed peanuts.

 

 

Capusta (Hungarian Cabbage Noodles) – 20/67

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A couple years ago I hosted a dinner party where everyone made something that represented their heritage. It was a small group of us, but I was nervous that I was going to be seriously out-cooked. I mean, of Indian, Brazilian, Californian (it was a bit of a stretch but we let it slide (she made beet salad)), and Eastern European, I don’t think my Ashkenazi ancestors are the stand-out culinarians. My offering to the evening was my grandma’s Hungarian capusta, which literally translates to cabbage. And the dish itself is really just cooked green cabbage and egg noodles. With salt and pepper. And a little fat. That is literally it. It’s the most humblest, cheapest, simplest of dishes, yet it is so much greater than the sum of its parts. It’s shockingly good. At that dinner party, everyone kept asking me what could possibly be in this delicious dish. They were amazed to learn it was literally just noodles and cabbage.

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This is the dish we would always look forward to at holiday dinners. My grandma always had leftovers pre-packed for us before the meal so we wouldn’t feel like we needed to hold back at dinner. She said in the notes for this recipe that this dish is a traditional peasant food but now has become a treat because, even though it’s so easy, it’s a little time-intensive. Each batch of cabbage has to be browned fully. It also makes your kitchen smell a little cabbagey for the rest of the day. But, I promise you, these are small trade-offs for the final product. (She would also make pounds and pounds of it at a time — it’s much more doable with a single cabbage-worth.)

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So when I found myself with friends coming over for dinner recently and a giant CSA cabbage taking up space in the fridge, I decided to make capusta. I was afraid it was not as fitting at a summer potluck than on a Rosh Hashanah spread, but it worked just the same. From humble roots to star of the holiday table to a new potluck go-to, here we are.

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Capusta 

from my giant-hearted Grandma Evy, who has made this one of her specialties, even though it comes more directly from my grandpa’s lineage

1 head green cabbage
1 bag medium-wide egg noodles (I used extra wide because that’s all the store had)
Salt and pepper
butter/margarine/olive oil

First, grate your cabbage. You can do this using a box grater, food processor, or fancy knife work. I used a box grater; next time I’ll use my mandoline (which I just used to make a shredded salad and omg it was so fast.) 

Heat a big saute pan (I used my Le Creuset braiser) over medium heat. Add a bit of fat — my grandma uses margarine so the dish stays dairy-free (and hence servable with meat), but I used a combo of butter and olive oil. I probably used ¼ – ½ a stick butter in total. Regardless, cook cabbage in batches so each piece gets good browning time. Add a little salt and pepper as it cooks. Add more olive oil or small pieces of butter if it seems like it’s sticking a lot. Cook until cabbage has darkened and wilted and smells great. Once cooked, place in a big bowl. Repeat with remaining batches. 

Meanwhile, boil your noodles. Add warm noodles to cabbage, add more salt and pepper and a couple small pats of butter, and mix mix mix. Taste — it will probably need more salt. Then your capusta is done! It’s most delicious alongside stuffed cabbage rolls and tomatoey green beans. 

 

 

Peach Blueberry Cobbler – 19/67

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How I did the heatwave on Saturday:

  • Woke up early to bake cobbler 
  • Blasted the AC
  • Until Daniel tried to vaccuum at the same time and we blew a fuse and then couldn’t find our fuse box and our landlord was on the West Coast and also didn’t know where our fuse box was and finally we found it in our downstairs neighbor’s apartment, unlabeled. It was eventually fixed. (By my husband.) (He wanted me to add that). 
  • Also made caponata (similar to this recipe), capusta (coming soon!), a cucumber salad, and sangria. Daniel made amazing spicy caramel peanut brittle. Busy kitchen day.
  • Took the train to Queens to see the play I directed in a festival
  • Hosted 10 people at our apartment for a potluck party
  • Bought and consumed lots of ice cream

It was a great day but it was not ideal heatwave activities.

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So, how I did the heatwave on Sunday:

  • Sat inside, ate leftovers, washed dishes
  • Consumed lots of ice cream

Sunday was a good day.  

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This is the dessert you need to make tonight. It’s so fast, so bright, so perfectly summery. And it seems incredibly adaptable, though I’ve only made it this once. The recipe calls for two cups peaches — I used three peaches, which was a little more. And then it called for one cup of blueberries, which didn’t feel like enough blueberries so I just kept adding a couple more at a time, until I think I ended up doubling it. Oops. It was still perfect. 

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Olivia gave me this recipe with the comment “the bestest dessert”. She is not lying. This thing won the potluck last night. It’s totally worth turning on your oven for, promise. 

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other blueberry desserts: simple lemon blueberry cake with lemon cream + celebration blueberry cake with ginger cream cheese frosting

other peach things (tis the season): peach tomatillo salsa + peach black bean sweet potato tacos

four years ago: collard greens tomato sauce with spaghetti
five years ago: cilantro quinoa soup with seared shrimp and corn

Peach Blueberry Cobbler

thanks to Olivia’s grandma, who seems like a pretty amazing lady, for this one. thanks for sharing your family recipes! 

¾ cup sugar + 2 tablespoons, divided
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch (or potato starch)
½ cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice (from about half a lemon)
2 cups fresh peaches, sliced and peeled if you want to (about 3 peaches)
1 cup blueberries
1 cup flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
¼ cup butter, softened and cut into chunks
½ teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated is best!)

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a medium saucepan, combine ¼ cup sugar, brown sugar, cornstarch, and water. Stir over medium heat until the mixture thickens, about two minutes. Take off of heat and add lemon juice, peaches, and berries. Stir well to coat. Tip into a 2 quart baking dish (is what the recipe said. I used a 9-inch square baking pan.)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Give a quick mix. Add milk and softened butter. Use mixer to mix everything together at medium speed for about 4-5 minutes, until fluffy and few butter chunks remain. (This would be fine with a hand held beater too.) Dollop spoonfuls of this cookie dough over the fruit. 

Mix together remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and nutmeg. Sprinkle on top of cookie dollops. 

Bake in your preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, until top is browned evenly and fruit is bubbling. I served with vanilla ice cream and 9 people devoured it in the blink of an eye. 
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