I’ve been meaning to get into the Shakshuka groove ever since I had it for breakfast at Nopi in London, and on my trip to Israel, where this North African dish wowed me – and my taste buds – every morning. Although various versions abound, the most widely known Shakshuka involves eggs softly cooked in a hot skillet of spiced tomato sauce. I’ve had plenty of spicy foods in my life, but the complex seasoning in the sauces that I’ve tasted in the ones I had lingered with me for months afterward, and I had no choice but to make it at home. (Or move to London – or North Africa.)
Results tagged Herbs from David Lebovitz
I can’t believe that after all these years, I’ve never made white bean dip. I’ve made dips with eggplant, chickpeas, eggplant again, and even weeds, if you can believe it. I don’t know, it always seemed like it would be too plain, or ho-hum. A mound of puréed beans? No thanks.
But boy, was I wrong. First up, of course, are the beans. There are good beans and there are not-so-good beans. The good ones are fresh and buttery tasting. The not-great ones are old and stale. Who knew that dried beans went bad? Dried beans generally have a shelf life of about one year and if you’ve ever tried to cook up a batch of dried beans and they’ve remained stubbornly tough, it’s usually because they’ve been hanging around too long.
I had a bag in my pantry since, well, I can’t remember when I bought them. So as we say in the restaurants business, “Use ’em or lose ’em” – so if you’ve got some beans in your pantry that you keep pushing aside, as I was (to reach for the chocolate) now is the time to get ’em soaking, folks.
I often think how amusing (and sometimes frustrating) how many words there are in the French language that seemingly mean the same thing, but have various subtleties and nuances that make them worlds apart. And thinking about it, I realize that Americans have our own variety of words for seemingly (or exactly) the same thing, many based on where we live. Speaking of which, I had a hankering for a meatball sandwich for — oh, say… the last three years. And due to an abundance of bread crumbs, I thought I’d tackle them at home.
Technically, these kinds of sandwiches are called “grinders”, and if you call them something else, then you weren’t raised in Connecticut. You’re probably from one of the 49 other states that doesn’t call them grinders, but refers to them as submarine sandwiches (or subs), torpedo sandwiches, hero sandwiches, poor boys, or hoagies. (Which I now realize, since the shoe is on the other food, are all just to confuse the foreigners.) So let’s just call them meatball sandwiches, because who wants to argue over names where there are hot meatballs bobbing in tomato sauce, ready to be sandwiched between two pieces of crusty bread, then topped with melted cheese to eat?
When I left the restaurant Haj Kahil after lunch, I said to someone – “That was the best day of my life.” When Erin, who was dining next to me, took a bite of the fried Halloumi cheese, her whole body softened, her eyes dimmed, and she looked as if she had been lulled into a trance.
And when someone tried to talk to her, she said – “I’m sorry. I’m just…having…a…moment..with…this….cheese…”
Someone around here jumped the gun here on early harvested tomatoes and I came home the other day and found a bowl of les tomates Campari in a little paper sack, in the kitchen.
A week or so ago, my French other half was under the weather. And it wasn’t until that point that I learned that not everyone understands the healing power of chicken soup. So I made a Poule au pot (chicken cooked in the pot) with carrots and little bits of pastina (pearl-shaped pasta) floating around in the broth, and stopped at the market to pick up a bunch of fresh dill to chop into it.
Fresh herbs are widely used in French cooking and available in Paris markets, although some are hard to find, especially oregano, marjoram, and sage. Others, like thyme, rosemary, and tarragon are sold in generous bunches, as well as fresh dill. Although I’ve always wondered what people in Paris do with all that fresh dill since you only rarely see it on menus, unless it’s paired with salmon.
It was hard to explain the appeal of dill with chicken soup, but not only did the soup work its magic, the dill was a surprise hit. However I had half a bunch left over and since wild salmon isn’t so abundant, but cucumbers are, so I decided it was Tzatziki time.
It always curious to me, when I see “French breakfast radishes” in the states. I know that’s the name for them, according to seed packets and so forth. Or perhaps it’s just in my particular circles. But I’ve never seen anyone offer – or even eat – French ‘breakfast’ radishes for breakfast in France.
Still, the French do eat a lot of radishes. (In fact, they were one of the first things I wrote about on the site after I arrived in Paris.) And with good reason: their radishes are excellent. And because radishes are so popular, they’re often sold in bunches of two at a slightly more attractive price than if you were to buy just one. Radishes in France are often two-toned numbers, glowing red at the stem end, and ruddy white by the thread-like roots.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to use up things I already have in the cupboard, plus eat seasonally, plus make things that are relatively easy to make – and this salad fit the bill on all counts. It combines tahini with wild rice and used up some of the marvelous root vegetables that I can’t help buying at the market, even though I should be using up what I’ve already got on hand. It’s not the prettiest salad in the world, but compared to what I didn’t show you of my refrigerator, that bowl should be hanging in the Louvre.
Speaking of which, I’m only going to give you a glimpse of my jam-packed refrigerator (and I mean literally, there are over a dozen jars of assorted jams in there) because I don’t want my refrigerator scrutinized. Not that I’m ashamed of having a bottle of bbq sauce and some store-bought feta, but, well, my refrigerator is sort of a disaster at the moment, and I’m hoping to take care of that shortly. (Although I’ve been saying that since November…of 2007.)