Results tagged herb from David Lebovitz

A Visit to Abu Kassem Za’atar Farm

za'atar pita

One thing you learn quickly if you travel to, or somehow explore otherwise, the various cuisines of the Middle East, is that every country, and seemingly…every single person, has their own idea of what za’atar is. And they’re very (very) attached to it. So much so that a chef in a restaurant in Jerusalem rolled up his sleeve to show me a tattoo of what he told me was hyssop, a name for an herb that’s used in some places to make Za’atar, one of the world’s great seasonings.

fresh za'atar

Za’atar consists of herbs, sesame, and sumac, varying them by proportions depending on culture and country. But I can say that Abu Kassem of Za’atar Zawtar makes the best za’atar I’ve ever tasted, anywhere.

fresh za'atar plant

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Mint Chip Ice Cream

mintchipiceblogheader

One of my favorite summertime memories was having mint chip ice cream back when I grew up in New England, which we ate outside and had ordered from a window at our local dairy. Even though the ice cream was freshly made, they made sure it bright-bright-green, so we knew we were eating mint, I guess.

I remember a few years later, after the dairy closed, when we bought a tub of Breyers ‘all-natural’ ice cream at the supermarket and I lifted the lid off the tub of mint chip ice cream only to be surprised to find that mint ice cream wasn’t really green at all, but almost pure, snowy white, save for the chunks of chocolate studded about here and there.

measuring mint leaves

When I wanted to come up with my own mint ice cream recipe, I used handfuls of fresh mint leaves for flavor, unlike what the store-bought stuff is made from, so it had a leafy, herbaceous flavor. A few people noted to me at various times that their mint-infused milk didn’t get the delicate green hue that mine has, but mint is a plant and most plants aren’t standardized—at least not the ones I want to eat.

steeping mint for ice cream

So, naturally there will be variations in strength and color depending on the mint that you use. If you’d prefer to have absolute certain, 100% standardized results, you could simply make a plain vanilla ice cream and add mint extract or crème de menthe in lieu of the vanilla, but I’ll stick to using only fresh mint in my ice cream.

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French Tomato Tart

kate's tart

This week I saw the first promise of tomato season. A few brightly colored cherry specimens were brought home from the local market, as well as the more standard varieties. I was down in Gascony visiting my friend Kate Hill, and her photographer friend Tim Clinch was there preparing to lead a photography workshop. Looking for something tempting and colorful, tomatoes seemed the obvious choice as willing subjects.

cherry tomatoes erika

In addition to the profusion of flowers plucked from the lush garden by the canal du Midi, the tomatoes had their moment in front of the camera. But once the participants stopped clicking, we grabbed them and put them where they rightfully belong: In the kitchen.

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Involtini: Feta & Prosciutto Rolls

ham & feta rolls blog

I was having drinks at a friend’s house last night, who is a cuistot, the French slang for a cook. I don’t think you’d say cuistat for a woman, but whatever you want to call us, the conversation pretty much stayed on one topic: Food. We talked literally for hours while we drank brisk sauvignon blanc and picked apart an amazing wedge of 30 month-old Comté cheese from a giant wedge on a cutting block positioned strategically between us.

ham and sage

For some reason, the conversation turned to food intolerances and allergies, which aren’t all that well-known in France. I’ve never been invited to a dinner party at a French person’s house and quizzed about what I don’t eat in advance. (Although since being served squid once, I’ve learned to be pro-active so it doesn’t happen again.) Yes, there is a growing consciousness about various food intolerances, although there isn’t a large-scale comprehension about many of the various diets and regimes out there.

Some friends from California were surprised when they went to a vegetarian restaurant in Paris recently and there weren’t any vegetables on the menu. And I’ve heard from numerous people who’ve told waiters that they didn’t eat meat, and were offered foie gras instead, since that wasn’t considered “meat.”

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Eggless Chervil Mayonnaise

chervil salad1

You might have passed chervil by when shopping, thinking it was a wimpy version of parsley. The wispy, thin leaves don’t look very tempting. And you might be tempted to overlook it, unaware of its powerful aroma that it lends to certain dishes. But if you’ve never had it, add a handful of chopped chervil to a salad. You’ll wonder why you don’t pick up a bunch more often.

chervil

Which was a position I was in last week, when for some reason, I saw nice bunches at the producteur stand my market for just one euro each, and decided to ask for them to add one to my basket at the last moment, before I paid. When I got home and unpacked everything, I was a bit stunned to see how huge the bunch actually was.

(I think I get special treatment, though, because I bring them cookies.)

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