gift basket

Michael’s co-worker heard that I was making foodie gifts and requested a basket for her friend’s anniversary celebration. Here’s what I came up with…

Serrano Blanco (Fresh pepper infused tequila)

Pickled Watermelon Rinds

Beef Jerky

Boozy Cherry Chutney

Garlic-Herb Salt

Bacon Onion Jam

Mocha Cocoa (Add to hot milk for delicious hot chocolate)

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Raspberry-Basil Syrup

with gin, lemon and seltzer

It’s a great gift—email me to request one!


 

 

 

 

my new favorite diy

garlic herb salt

One of the new items I've been experimenting with is homemade garlic and herb salt. You know that nasty chalky McCormick garlic salt that's been in your pantry for years? Throw it out. This one is easy and makes everything taste better. Seriously. I've tried it on eggs, humous, guacamole, sauteed veggies, salad dressing and roast chicken. I now sprinkle it on a bagel and cream cheese (instant everything bagel!) Try it on top of toast with mayo (or spinach humous pictured above) and fresh summer tomatoes. It elevates flavor and adds a richness without overpowering. Cardboard up next. 

It does however take some upper body strength, so feel free to cancel today's gym plans. 

turning squash into spaghetti

At the tail end of our market bonanza, I went looking for eggs and came back with this, and vague memories of eating some delicious spaghetti squash years back. Michael was less than excited about my new find but I stashed it in the bottom of the stroller so he promptly forgot it ever existed until I unveiled last night's dinner, which, as Mack now says, "blew his head off." And yes Mack loved it too.

Spaghetti squash has flesh that when cooked and removed with a fork resembles spaghetti (actually more like sauerkraut) but which can be prepared to taste pretty close to a cheesy heap of pasta. Here's the easy secret: microwave it whole. Poke some knife slits in and microwave for 5-10 minutes until soft. When it cools, slice is open length wise (should be easy to cut) then scoop out the seeds. Trade the spoon for a fork and begin de-stranding.

What next? I took the easy route again: sauteed some garlic in olive oil in frying pan, then dumped in the squash. Cook for 5-10 minutes then add some Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. I added a spoonful of ricotta at the very end to make it a little more creamy.

the genius humous recipe that doesn't take a genius

What is so genius about this humous recipe is the use of baking soda. After soaking the dried chickpeas overnight (dump in bowl, cover with water, go to sleep) you drain them and add them to a saucepan with a teaspoon of baking soda and cook for a while until the chickpeas start bubbling white. This is the baking soda working). Then just add water and simmer. The bubbles will get bigger and more like blobs of foam, which you can scoop off. After about 30 minutes, the chickpeas go in a food processor with the regulars--lemon, tahini and garlic and whirl. The final step is kind of joyous: add ice water. For some reason, this makes it into that creamy texture you want your humous to be. 

early morning beans

It’s not even 8am and I’m eating spicy cilantro and jalapeño humus with a baby spoon straight from the container. Mack decided to preempt daylight savings time and get up at 4am. Michael’s instinct when we hear these early (middle of the night?) cries from the boys’ room is not to run in and separate the two so Nate will at least sleep until a normal time, but to debate the matter. “Why is Mack doing this to us?!” “It’s 4 fucking fifteen in the morning…unacceptable.” So it’s mostly me doing the running, saving, changing of diapers, baba making and entertaining of our 1 year old with a vocabulary (so far) of “boat” and “cheese.”

It’s been a long morning. I’ve watched multiple movies, made cauliflower soup, done laundry, cleaned the house, run the dishwasher, gotten both boys dressed, broken up many fights, punished Mack, woken up Michael and now with everyone finally out of the house (where? dunno. playground maybe...) I’m alone with my humus, looking for recipes for dips for tonight’s pasta Sunday.

And I’m thinking…White bean dip, a close cousin to humus. It’s not a hard thing to make. In fact it is almost too easy (even Rachel Ray promises a 2 minute version which comes out fine.) So how to make this a little more exciting? And do I even bother since I’m feeding the Moshan-Gesser clan who think any cooking is “magic.” 

A little research and I found some inspiration. Mark Bittman said Marcella Hazan told him that grated lemon peel is this dish’s the secret; David Lebowitz who I now adore suggested using the bulk of the oil on the top rather than blended in to maximize it’s contribution. Also, I’m feeling a bit lustful towards the huge rustic garlic cloves from yesterday’s lovely fall farmer’s market; and I have a whole lot of fresh Thyme about to depart for a better world. So here goes:

My White Bean Dip

  • 2 cans white beans
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp chopped thyme
  • ¼-1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt/pepper; sea salt
  1. Blend beans, lemon juice, garlic and thyme in blender (or Vitamix). Slowly add olive oil until it’s creamy, reserving some for garnish.
  2. Grate zest of entire lemon and add to dip. Adjust with salt/pepper to taste. Top with olive oil and sea salt for a little crunch. Serve with crudite or pita chips.