Chickpea Salad

February 2, 2009

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My girlfriends and I threw a bridal shower for our friend Emily on Saturday night. It wasn’t a run-of-the-mill shower, by any means. It was at night, for one thing. And we traded dainty cups of tea for icy blood orange margaritas. Oh, and one other thing: the bride was already married! (She went and had such a quick engagement that we didn’t have time to fête her before the nuptials; thankfully, we (and she) subscribe to the better late than never philosophy.) All in all, the tequila and the darkness and the married lady made for a great bridal shower.

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Surprising no one, I jumped at the chance to cook for the shower. I’ll admit that the first item on the menu was the margaritas. But today’s recipe was the second thing I added to the menu. I knew Emily liked chickpeas and I did all sorts of brainstorming for a chickpea dish. Again and again, I came back to a chickpea salad that has become a staple for us since I discovered it on Orangette.

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Flashless & Photoless No More

December 16, 2008

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So.  This salad.  Well, hmmm, let’s see.  I’m not sure what to say about it.  For one thing, it’s not the gingerbread cake I made on Sunday and hoped to tell you about today, because that cratered while it baked and then refused to dislodge itself from its pan (still producing delicious crumbs, though, I assure you).  And it’s also not the newest soup to grace my Dutch oven twice in the last month, because while that soup is incredibly comforting and bright and hearty, it’s also incredibly un-photogenic.

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And, while we’re at it, it wasn’t the Chicago-style deep dish we made the weekend before last,  either, because we ate that long after sundown and we hungrily ate it, flashless and thus photoless.   (Don’t worry, it will have an encore very soon.) Which, I suppose, brings me back to the salad.

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Homespun Edge

December 11, 2008

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Okay, people, let’s hear it: how are you holding up?  Is cookie fatigue setting in?  I mean in your own kitchens, though I suppose you could catch a slight case of cookie fatigue just from hanging around here this week.  First it was pistachio-dried cherry cookies and then it was chocolate-espresso snowcaps.  And now it’s these peanut butter pinwheels, which—let me tell you—nearly gave me cookie fatigue and them some.  In fact, it had me ready to throw in the spatula.

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Thankfully, I recovered and the confections will continue to emerge from the oven.  But for a short time on Sunday, when I made these stripey cookies, it was dicey.   You see, I committed the cardinal sin of cooking/baking: I didn’t read the recipe through before baking the cookies.  There, I said it.

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An Uncooperative Autumn

October 13, 2008

My parents were in Chicago for the weekend and we packed nearly every minute of it with all things fall. We made a dinner that featured a roasted pork tenderloin, glazed onions, mashed potatoes and apple crisp. We were in Evanston for a college football Saturday (so much for the Cats’ undefeated schedule). We watched playoff baseball. We feasted on freshly-baked apple streusel muffins for breakfast. We ordered desserts after a dinner out on Saturday night that involved pumpkin and caramel. We studiously avoided talking about politics, as we do every fourth fall, so as to avoid heated arguments. I bought a new scarf while I was out shopping with my mom and sister. We even discussed the Thanksgiving menu.

Despite our extremely admirable (if I do say so myself) efforts at playing fall, the weather refused to cooperate. It was hot. Hot. Eighty on Sunday! Eighty on October freakin’ twelfth. The trees were plump with green leaves. The sunshine absolutely flooded both Saturday and Sunday. Not to sound too Palin here, but to all this I said: thanks, but no thanks.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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A Very Picky Coleslaw Fan

September 4, 2008

I’ve made no big secret of my mayo aversion. It’s perhaps most evident in the collection of slaw recipes on this site, closely followed by the potato salads, another picnic staple. None of the slaw or potato salad recipes on this site include mayonnaise (nor does this one, which I’ve been making faithfully every couple weeks since Heidi posted it) and today’s recipe is no different.


That said, you might not guess that it’s mayo-free on first, or even second, bite. It’s creamy and lush, like a traditional slaw, but instead of using mayonnaise as a binder, this recipe relies on a combination of buttermilk and blue cheese, brightened by a splash of apple cider.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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I am in the middle of trying to re-create a sesame-kale salad served up at one of my favorite local breakfast/brunch/lunch spots. To start, I really haven’t the faintest idea of the best method for cooking the kale for a recipe like this: steam it over boiling water, or steam it right in a shallow pool of liquid, or saute it in a glug of olive oil? I’ve tried a couple variations and I’m having a hard time getting it just right—the kale comes out too wilted, too strongly flavored, lacking punch, and the list of complaints goes on. To top things off, it seems that kale is exceedingly difficult to photograph once it’s been cooked, if, you know, qualities like “appetizing” are among those you seek in your food shots. Raw kale, however, is a different story; beautiful and photo-friendly:

Given this series of setbacks, I’ve decided it’s time to take a hiatus from trying to recreate this salad and, even better, from trying to photograph it. Instead, I’ll turn to photos past and, in the process, check an item off my blog to-do list (one that’s been languishing for some time). I was tagged by Mari of Mevrouw Cupcake a (very long) while back for the Ten Favorite Food Photos meme, which requests that the person tagged select—you guessed it—her favorite 10 food photos that she has taken. How fun is that meme? Much more fun than soggy kale, I’m quite sure. So here they are, in no particular order, my Ten Favorite Food Photos (after the jump).

(Click “more” for the 10 photos and the rest of the story.)

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A Second Chance

August 26, 2008

We’ve all got recipes that are inextricably bound to cherished memories or experiences. One, it seems, can hardly exist without the other. For me, Thanksgiving is just not right without my grandmother’s Thanksgiving stuffing. Similarly, nothing signals autumn like a burbling pot of chili on the stove. And I wrote not long ago how connected this recipe will always be to my wedding day and, now, my anniversaries. But the flip side of all this warm fuzziness is that there are also some recipes that are associated with memories perhaps best not remembered. A dinner party gone awry, for instance, or the meal you were tucking into when a great storm blew through. Today’s recipe holds the inauspicious status as one of these kinds of recipes.

When we lived in D.C., I made this pasta salad quite a bit. It’s a twist on a Michael Chiarello recipe and it’s also an excellent excuse to salami (which is a good thing, because Kevin needs absolutely no excuse to eat cured meats and I need some convincing, especially after reading Heat, which goes into some detail about the butcher’s craft). In the summers, we’d frequently make a big batch over the weekend and have it for lunch throughout the week, packed into tupperware containers and often eaten together in a park near our offices and across the street from the White House. I also remember packing it into a cooler for a day trip to the Shenandoah and for a longer road trip up the East Coast and into New England. All these memories, of course, are fine and good. But then

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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