It’s super easy! You need:
1 big onion, very thinly sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped or thinly sliced
1 lb mixed greens (or kale, or collards, or mustard, or whatever you like)
can o’ chickpeas
ton of cracked red pepper
1 can veggie stock
EVOO
3-4 lemons
honey (or maple syrup, brown sugar, agave, whatever you use)
black pepper, salt, maybe a little cumin or whatever other spices you like
whatever grain you like (brown rice, couscous, quinoa if you don’t hate yourself for buying it, whatevz you want. wild rice would be nice! or orzo or some other small pasta.)
sliced toasted almonds. or pine nuts, or whatever crunchy things you like.
Slice the onion, throw it in a large deep pan/cast-iron/whatever you got.  No oil yet.  Sautee that shit on high until it all starts to brown and caramelize (makes the whole thing sweeter + tastier.) Don’t burn them, you just want them sorta clear and a little bit golden, maybe a little brown on some of the edges. They’re gonna stick a little, that’s okay.Lower the heat, add a lil’ olive oil, toss in your garlic and as much red pepper as you like and sautee for a little bit.  (I use a lot of red pepper, cuz I like things SPICY.) Add a little water and with a wooden spoon deglasse the pan, aka scrape all that burn-y oniony goodness off the bottom of the pan from when you cooked those onions before. Add a can of veggie or mushroom stock, some salt, lots of black pepper, a few teaspoons of honey. Bring to a slow boil.  Go ahead and put your water on for your grains now as well, assuming they’re of the variety that takes about 20-30 minutes to cook, and do whatever that requires. Toss in all those greens and then squeeze the lemons over top of them, sprinkle a little more salt and pepper.  (Strain the lemon juice to keep the seeds out, duh.)  Cover the whole thing with a big lid for like five minutes, remove, marvel at how much smaller that pile of leaves is after it’s wilted.  Stir a little.  Add water if necessary, but probably not.  The greens continue wilting down and getting darker and should be just barely covered with water, not drowning, but definitely not dry.  Keep it at a low simmer for 15-20 minutes (or longer, depending on your pan/green of choice) until things start to look tender and done.  Dump those chickpeas in there, stir, simmer for a few more minutes.  If you like raisins, those can be a tasty addition at this point too.Serve over grains and sprinkle with almonds. Voilá! If you eat cheese, some parmesan or other hard cheese (maybe manchego?!) would be nice grated on top as well. If you eat meat or fish, would be tasty under some grilled salmon, chicken, or even a pork chop. Makes a lot, but just mix all the leftover grains and greens together and then nuke the whole mess for lunch the next day and eat with some tomato soup. A+.

Perfect Fried Rice

Why so many food posts lately?! I have no idea. Deal with it. Today: Fried rice, but you know, minus the gut bomb and growing regret part afterwards, and with way more veggies than the few wrinkly peas you see sometimes.

Fried rice always feels like a.) kind of a cop-out to order takeout and b.) the unhealthiest thing ever to eat, and attempts to make it at home (at least for me) always seem to end in…. a greasy disgusting mess of overly-salty rice mush.  Gross.

HOWEVER. This is not always how it has to be! You are totally allowed to mess with concepts, like “what fried rice is.” Forget your notions of $3 greasy takeout and failed attempts to re-create it! Fried rice can totally be a meal in and of itself.

Like that huge coconut lentil stew I posted last week, wok-fried rice with plenty of tofu and veggies is another great, cheap way to feed a shit-ton of hungry people or just yourself for a week straight. And honestly, it’s surprisingly healthy, especially if you add a ton of veggies, use brown/wild rice, and keep the oil and sugary/salty sauces to a minimum. (Garlic and ginger go a long way for flavor, seriously.)  And once you’ve stocked up on the seasonings (most people might not always have soy sauce and sesame oil and cilantro on hand, but, uh, I do) it’s super cheap and easy.  It’s also really easy to adapt to vegan or gluten-free diets, or you can replace the tofu with shrimp, chicken, pork, or steak for your meat-eating friends.

The secret is all in the prep, which is also super easy and fast once you get the hang of it.  As usual, sharp knives (and a perverse enjoyment of, say, “julienning peppers”) help a ton, and a really awesome nonstick/well-seasoned wok is absolutely necessary.

You’re gonna need:

  • Rice (preferably leftover/a lil stale - mine was fresh, hence the sorta sticky appearance in above photo, but I kinda like it that way too.)  Long grain white is probably what you’re expecting, but I find wild rice/brown rice blends work really nicely here, or even brown basmati. Different rice will yield different texture — sushi rice, for example, will likely become a nightmare risotto-esque mess, but firmer varieties will get all nice and firm and crispy.
  • Firm or Extra Firm Tofu
  • Eggs (if you eat them)
  • Veggies of your choice that require cooking (mushrooms, onions, zucchini/squash, eggplant, asparagus, broccoli)
  • Veggies of your choice that are tastier almost-raw (bell peppers, carrots, bok choy, sugar snap peas, soybeans)
  • Pineapple, if you want. Canned and chopped or fresh and chopped is fine.
  • Nuts, if you like them (cashews, peanuts, or almonds are nice)
  • Enough garlic to kill an army of vampires
  • Green onions
  • Cilantro, if you are, like me, of the “no such thing as too much cilantro” school of cooking
  • Sesame oil
  • Hot sauce (SRIRACHA 4LYFE)
  • Some sort of marinade (either pre-made teriyaki type sauce, or just use the recipe below.)

Ready? OK, cool. Let’s go.

LENTILS WITH COUSCOUS AND MINT

I’ve been trying to make an effort to cook at home and bring lunch to work more often,  and as a result I’ve been spending my Sundays preparing giant bowls of salads that I can grab and go in the mornings.  This lentil salad is one of my favourites — it’s spicy, sweet, refreshing, filling, and ridiculously easy to make (well, if you like chopping, which I totally do, OH GOD YOU GUYS I COULD JULIENNE PEPPERS ALL DAY THE BEST STRESS RELIEF EVER IS DICING CELERY I LOVE KNIVES.) We also already know about my near-obsessive ongoing love affair with fresh mint — and this is just another option for it before summer’s over.

marinated shrimp and confetti orzo salad

More in summer dinner favourites: shrimp, marinated for a few hours in a Caribbean-ish mixture of soy sauce, olive oil, ginger, garlic, scallions, lime, cilantro (buy it fresh! not frozen! it’s life-changing!), and hot pepper, then grilled (or sauteed, depending on what you have available: we know grills are hard to come by when you live in a 350 sq foot walk-up in a 52-unit building in Brooklyn, cough cough) then served over a chilled confetti orzo salad, garnished with more lime, scallions, and cilantro.

I’m a huge fan (if this wasn’t obvious already) of all things sweet-and-spicy, and of using fruit unexpectedly in savory dishes.  Here, cubed grilled pineapple and mandarin orange wedges (from a can, to save time) add a summery kick to a colourful salad of orzo, red and green bell pepper, red onion, chickpeas, black beans, and corn, with a dressing made of lime juice, olive oil, ginger, tons of garlic, scallions, hot pepper, and again plenty of fresh cilantro.

Fresh mint is by far one of my favourite things to cook with during summer, and Memorial Day weekend calls for summer food and drinks if nothing else.  Above, gin cocktails with muddled cucumber, mint, lime, and club soda (almost dangerously refreshing, considering that each one more than two shots of gin…) and below, one of my favourite salads (seriously, I make this almost weekly from June to September): watermelon, feta, mint, a drizzle of olive oil and fresh cracked pepper.

And totally not involving mint, but we all basically know I can’t help myself from baking for every possible occasion… So, ginger & black pepper spice cookies with dark chocolate chips as well — to be made into mini ice-cream-sandwiches with vanilla or pistachio ice cream for dessert.

Oh shit! A food post! I always forget about these and you guys always comment and ask about them and blahdyblah, I cook like it’s my goshdarn job, blahdyblahblah.
Dinner last night was a twist on taking apart the usual Niçoise salad, minus the totes groce stuff, like anchovies and eggs, and letting the tuna and potatoes hold their own. So: Pan-seared tuna marinated in EVOO, apple cider vinegar, fresh rosemary, herbes de provence, garlic, mustard, and pepper; a chopped salad of most of the usual Niçoise vegetables with a wholegrain spicy mustard vinaigrette; and smashed roasted potatoes with garlic, rosemary, and fontina cheese. F’yeah.

sea salt toffee

It really amuses me when things which are actually relatively simple to make - for example, sea salted caramel/toffee/chocolate - become trendy in a way which seems intimidatingly gourmet.  Toffee (and other sugar-based candies like marshmallows and butterscotch) are suprisingly easy - and the addition of a dark chocolate and a sprinkle of sea salt makes for an impressive-looking gift.  It does take a bit of patience and probably a few botched batches before you perfect it, but when I say simple, I mean simple.

What you need for a basic butter tofffee is:

• 1 cup butter
• 1 cup sugar
• a stove, a saucepan, a wooden spoon, and a large piece of aluminum foil on a hard heatproof surface