We’d been home 15 minutes when Tim said he felt like going out. Our plane from Chicago to Nashville had been delayed, then delayed again, so by the time we were standing in our kitchen, suitcases unopened and the source of that very unfortunate musty smell that had greeted us when we’d arrived yet to be discovered, it was already past 8 p.m. Nonetheless, “let’s do it” were the words that came out of my mouth in response to his. I’d been gone almost a week, and we’d been together with family for several days. Spending time alone together, even just going to the grocery store before it closed on Tuesday night, felt like luxury.
“Yeah,” I said to him. “Let’s go someplace else.”
The exclamation point at the end of this post’s title is a little gimmicky, I know. But if there were ever a time to use an exclamation point in a post title, this is it. As soon as I saw this post at The Kitchn about making homemade pasta in the food processor, I was curious. As any Italian grandma would tell you, pasta-making traditionally involves very specific rules, from the mounding of the flour on the counter to the setting the eggs in the center to the incorporating everything into a workable dough. If the process could actually be as simple as a few minutes in a food processor, why wasn’t everyone doing it that way? Was this a gimmick or a trick? I’ll admit I was skeptical, but since The Kitchn rarely steers me wrong, regularly pointing me to such interesting resources as a simple sourdough starter, cool kitchen designs and a reminder about a Samoa popcorn recipe I have got to try, I figured this concept was worth a shot. That very day I saw the piece, I pinned the article, scrolled through the how-to guide and told Tim I wanted to try it with einkorn flour, that ingredient we’re always talking about here and that people say is especially wonderful when used in homemade pasta dough.
Most of the time, when I try to remember our honeymoon, everything’s fuzzy. I remember the guacamole Tim made the first night we arrived, after a whirlwind flight-flight-car-pickup-grocery-stop that had included my breaking down crying in the Wal-Mart parking lot. (Turns out 14 hours of travel, the day after a wedding, takes it out of a girl.) I remember the feeling of being away from it all, as if we’d left the world, gone to a secret place where only we knew each other. I remember the cheap avocados. I remember the roosters that woke us up our first day. I remember the euphoria of being alone and in love and, mostly, done with planning a wedding. But other than that, it’s all a blur.
But then other days, other moments, I get quick, unexpected glimpses that put me right back in that place. Tim and I were driving down a country road Sunday, and as we rounded a bend, both sides of the scenery turned thick and green, like the tall walls of jungle we’d driven through in Kauai. “Remember that corner we’d turn, after we left Postcards for dinner?” I said to Tim.
“I loved driving that jeep,” he said to me.
Picking up where we left off Tuesday, here’s a strawberry leek pizza—because nothing showcases summer strawberries quite as well as dolloping them onto a cracker-like crust, alongside sauteéd leeks and cheese. The strawberry-leek combo here came to us after making Sara’s quesadillas, which, yes, we already referenced in the last post but, trust us, they’re good enough to warrant at least one more nod. The combination of golden, oily leeks with sweet, sliced strawberries is one of those classic pairs that, after you taste them together, you’ll want to apply elsewhere again and again. The night I came home from strawberry picking, Tim and I were standing there in the darkening kitchen, eating our slippery, gooey quesadilla triangles, wondering out loud where else strawberries and leeks could belong, “Paninis!” one of us said. “Grilled cheese!” from the other. Then, “Tarts!” “Pies!” “Quiche?” when, like a giant “of course!” it came to us. Pizza. Pizza!
The other day, I bought fresh fennel at the grocery store.
Fresh fennel, if you’re not familiar with it, is awkward and big, not unlike many of us were when we were back in junior high. Undeterred by the way my two bulbs wouldn’t fit inside a standard produce bag, their dill-like fronds poking out on top, I carried those towering bodies proudly to the checkout line, along with the other items in my cart. Then, I took them home to Tim, laying their bodies across our cutting board, where, together, we deconstructed them, like vegetable surgeons working as a team: The tops, we chopped for garnishes. The stems, we boiled into broth. The bulbs, we cut to wedges and sidled along onions to cook slowly on the stove. An hour or so later, in return for all these efforts, we ate the braised bulbs for dinner, and, as we did, I made a discovery. This past week, or specifically, this particular moment sitting across from Tim at the table with plates of fennel as our meal, I learned I hate, and I mean, hate, cooked fennel (or, at least, cooked fennel that tastes anything remotely like the version we made). Since there are weeks, nay, entire months, of my life where I can’t remember learning anything notable, particularly between the high school years of 1996 and 2000, I guess you could say this was not a complete waste of time.
Besides the cooked fennel, our kitchen has seen a revolving door of new recipes this last week: sesame tahini cookies, chocolate banana smoothies as thick as ice cream, homemade honey mustard with roasted sweet potatoes and a seriously unusual raw lemon tahini pie. Nothing was as shockingly memorable as that batch of fennel. Nothing was as good as this bruschetta.
I should start off by telling you my blog friend Megan doesn’t call this recipe curry in a hurry. Curry in a hurry is what I call it—because, my friends, this is a curry that can be on the table in 10 to 15 minutes flat. If the rice and vegetables are cooked ahead of time, or, at least, cooked while you’re off doing something else, dinner prep is barely dinner prep. Dinner prep is as mindless as reheating leftovers or buying one of those ready-made things you dump into a pan on the stove. Dinner prep takes less time than it takes to go pick up takeout, watch an entire sitcom or, you know, blowdry my thick head of hair (which is why I rarely do). [Read more…]
If you haven’t already heard of The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook, named for the blog Sara and Hugh Forte keep by the same name, you’re probably not a food blogger (nor someone who follows The James Beard Awards, for which it is a recent nominee). Last summer, when the book first launched, I only slightly exaggerate that about nine out of ten food blogs I followed featured the book at one point or another. And it’s not hard to see why.
Like the blog, the Sprouted Kitchen book is gorgeous, filled with colorful, crisp images on every spread. The recipes are focused on whole foods, from lentil meatballs in lemon pesto (the closest thing to non-meat meatballs I’ve ever had!) to flourless chocolate-banana pudding cakes (souffle-esque and wonderful). While, true, we’ve mentioned this book briefly here before, last fall when we had Sara’s mashies n’ greens (our kale mashed potatoes), we wanted to highlight it again, partly because we love how kind and approachable Sara is—something anyone who’s interacted with her can see—and partly because of one recipe in particular that has blown us away: this buckwheat harvest tart. [Read more…]