Here’s to a bright and better new year! As we often do, we stayed in and had all the Traditional Foods of the season.
First, on New Year’s Eve, there was the chips and dip course. This year I made a variation of the America’s Test Kitchen caramelized onion dip, and it was pretty good, although still a bit too sweet. We ate more vegetables with it than usual, since I ended up with vast quantities of crudites after a catered event last weekend.
The new season at Gretchen’s Cooking School has been going for a while, but we just had our first volunteer night last week. It was a wine tasting featuring Washington State wines, brought in by James and Brian from Dickerson Distributors.
We eat so much grilled eggplant during the summer (thanks to the nice folks at Hedlin Family Farms) it’s a little embarrassing. Sometimes we dust it with spices first, but usually we just dress it with olive oil, salt and pepper, grill it till it poofs up and turns golden, then eat it in huge heaps with lamb kebabs or whatever else is on the grill that day. In an attempt to do something different with our weekly poundage of eggplant (plus some of the tomatoes which are beginning to take over the deck), I came up with this caponata. And we’ve made it twice in one week, so I guess it worked pretty well.
My approach here is to get all the ingredients except the eggplant mixed together in a big bowl, so all I have to do is take a cutting board down by the grill and dice up the eggplants as they come off the heat. Then I dump them into the dressing and mix everything up together. The flavors sit and blend while we grill the next part of the meal.
For the last six months or so there has been a recipe (a clipping from Bon Appetit or some such publication) stuck to the refrigerator with a magnet. I guess I somehow thought that if it was out in plain sight I would actually make it – sort of a triumph of optimism over experience. Turns out that staring at something every day doesn’t necessarily inspire you to do something about it…
I did make it, finally, for a middle-eastern themed dinner party we gave recently. Sort of a miracle, really. The recipe was for muhammara, a Syrian puree of roasted red peppers, walnuts and pomegranate molasses, and it seemed so completely up my alley that I can’t believe how long I waited to try it. I’m usually such a sucker for anything with pomegranate molasses. Continue reading
Last Saturday we cooked up quite a storm. We were kind of stuck at home, since Jon managed to throw his back out a few days before and was still on a fun variety of medications and spending most of his time on the couch. So why not cook?
To start, I made up a batch of carrot dip. I made this for friends a week ago, and it was so good it vanished instantly, so I wanted to do it again just for the two of us. It’s just roasted carrots pureed with olive oil, salt, fresh mint and a pinch of caraway or cumin seed, served with a sprinkling of feta cheese, and it is great. Plus it did a fantastic job of using up the six-pound bag of carrots we bought at the last farmer’s market.
Then I threw together another recipe from good old Art of Braising, which is rapidly becoming one of those cookbooks that I want to make every single recipe out of. I had tried the “Best Braised Cabbage in the World” already, but I saw a rave about the “Savoy Cabbage Gratin with Saint Marcellin” on Orangette that made me head straight out to the co-op to look for French triple-cream cheeses. I ended up with Delice de Bourgogne, which I thought worked splendidly [huh. I just realized that’s what Molly ended up using, too. Weird]. The final dish was smooth and sweet, with a delightful funkiness about it from the cheese. Leftovers have been singularly tasty. Continue reading